There are literally thousands of options that you can pursue in manufacturing, with the potential return on investment varying from a -100% return to a 100%+ return. The challenge for manufacturing companies is to have a process to determine what the next steps should be. IMEC has a basic process that can help you to navigate these waters and bring some clarity to your next step.
The decision to incorporate automation is quite similar to other critical decisions in an organization. When making the decision to purchase a piece of equipment, the process evaluates many factors. Return on Investment is a common element, improved safety conditions, less power, and ease of maintenance all are features in the decision to purchase the equipment. The same rings true for automation. However, automation does not always manufacture products; but may tend the machine or palletize the final product and final packaging.
With so many automation alternatives, the focus of the manufacturer needs to be on expectations for the automation. Understand the full scope of the automation such as how will it receive the material? What is the part orientation for the next stage in the operation? These questions and others create your requirements.
The two final elements that are key project management principles... budget and quality expectations (e.g. speed).
A significant amount of time is spent pre-vetting third parties and filtering through the options. Without due diligence, the selection may default to the least costly alternative. This may have negative implications if some of the company requirements are not being met with finished automation.
AUTOMATION SELECTION: Picking the Right Partner
IMEC provides a solution to this problem by offering an Automation Assessment to identify requirements for automation paired with a third-party evaluation format. The solution provides two or more deliverables:
- The assessment focuses on the manufacturing operation including metrics, process specifications, facility layout, material movement, and interfaces with existing equipment. Typically, video and pictures are required and used to communicate to suppliers in the selection phase. A report is issued to summarize and ensure the accuracy of the selection process.
- The implementation supplier selection process uses the requirements captured in the assessment phase to filter through suppliers with the capability to meet these requirements. IMEC will bring suppliers to the client in order to present solutions. The final stage in the selection process is vendor selection.
Highly regulated industries often require additional support for proof of concept. Validation plans ensure the capture of specific requirements for hardware, software, and process in general. (For example, the line speed is required to be 200mm/second, or 10 parts are handled in 30 seconds.)
IMEC is here to help structure your approach to automation. We start with understanding your needs and matching resources to assist you.
Whether it’s just mapping requirements, laying out the current state of a facility, or working on your behalf with the quotes from the third parties, IMEC is here to support your needs in introducing automation technology to your facility.
Click here to learn more about automation for manufacturers and get in touch with one of our digital transformation experts.