If you’re like most small to midsize manufacturers investing in automation, you spent time at the very start of your project carefully choosing an automation integrator. That’s the best time to identify companies that are not a good fit in terms of budget, experience or specialization, even personality clashes or things outside everyone’s control like schedules that just won’t mesh. And as a result, hopefully your final choice will deliver a custom machine for you as planned. But what if things start to change once the project is underway?
If you’re like most small to medium sized manufacturers, you spent, or plan to spend, a large amount of time and careful consideration choosing an automation integrator. Don’t neglect putting the same degree of thought into appointing a team from your company who will work with them. After all, you’re making a sizeable investment in a custom machine that your staff will rely on each day, so it makes sense to develop a partnership with the vendor as it’s being created.
Even if you don’t work in the HR world, you’ve probably heard of cross training employees. This method of teaching workers to do more than one job equips them with multiple skill sets and increases their value to their team, allowing them to fill in or provide reinforcement on an as-needed basis. It’s seen in settings as diverse as the corner coffee shop or a municipal public safety department. When employees can perform their own job as well as the key skills for other positions, it adds a level of flexibility that improves response time and productivity. What you might not know is there are similar benefits in applying this approach to automation equipment in manufacturing.
Cyber attacks that make the evening news usually feature large organizations and often announce the theft of personal information. While they rarely make headlines, these kinds of attacks can, and do, happen to smaller businesses too. In these cases, not only are your employees’ personal data at risk, but so are “smart” machines and equipment in the Industrial Internet of Things. The key to understanding cybersecurity in a manufacturing setting is being aware that once a device is connected to the internet (even indirectly through a company network) it becomes vulnerable to attack.
Increasingly, large and small factories are incorporating “smart” sensors, drives, and other monitoring components into their equipment. These connected devices can transmit production and operation data to a control room computer for real-time monitoring.
You probably know that automating some or all of your manufacturing processes can increase production, reduce waste, modernize your facility, and even boost revenue. But did you know it can help you expand your pool of potential employees and retain your current ones for longer? Let’s examine how automation can enable aging workers and persons with disabilities to carry out industrial and manufacturing work.
According to a 2016 survey by the MAPI Foundation and Rockwell Automation, the top reason companies said they chose not to automate is that perceived return on investment (ROI) did not justify the initial cost of purchase and implementation (47 percent). If this reasoning resonates with you, ask yourself if you’re looking at ROI comprehensively when considering automation.
We are pleased to announce that Stephen Layman has joined the Force Design team as an Applications Engineer. Stephen brings experience with automation design and installation to his new role in concept and proposal development. His work will include assessing client needs, designing and developing automation solutions, creating 3D concepts and simulations, presenting proposals to clients, analyzing costs, and working with equipment vendors. As part of the Force Design leadership group, he’ll also participate in strategic planning, growing client and vendor relationships, and leading concept development work with our design and engineering staff.
When a system, process, or institution experiences change so profound that it completely alters how it operates and how people think about it, we call it a revolution. Since the mid-1700’s, technological revolutions have changed industry, manufacturing, and the nature of work significantly three times:
Engineers have technical knowledge and an eye for detail, especially when it comes to improving a system or process. If you’ve determined that automation equipment can benefit your facility, it’s probably very clear to you how and why it’s a worthwhile investment. But the benefits and outcomes may not be as obvious to decision makers and management – the very people who approve the purchase. Because you’re the one who sees the full picture of what an automation project can accomplish, your task is much like making a sales pitch, convincing management to buy in to your solution.