As with any undertaking, it is best to establish goals and priorities for a successful project outcome when implementing a custom automation project. Above all, the decision to automate a process or production line tends to focus on the benefits, which are many. For manufacturers, industrial automation incorporates streamlined, automated processes, the promise of increased efficiency and uptime, improved productivity, yields, and quality of production, along with improved safety, reliability, and the advantage of scalability, all of which reduce long-term production costs and assures an ROI.
Nonetheless, when undertaking a custom automation project, it also means that you will be instituting a new system that will significantly impact how your production is organized and the overall way things are done. In other words, much forethought and planning should go into the system to ensure its success. To that end, here are four tips to help develop and implement your custom automation project:
1. Plan Jointly
Planning your custom automation project begins with identifying a need. It may be that increased demand is telling you it is the time to automate a process, but what part of the process needs to be automated and how it will impact production has to be clearly identified. As a project is the total of its parts, when developing a project plan, it’s best to do it jointly with people in the know. Build an internal team drawn upon people from all areas of the company—engineering, R&D, quality control, production, system operators, maintenance, safety, and so forth—to provide input from all areas of the company. It will help better understand and identify your automation needs and also help map out a plan to move the project forward from a basic concept to a specific plan of action.
2. Invest Wisely
Yes, custom automation can be a significant investment. To ensure an ROI within a reasonable time frame, focus on what you need, not what you want, even if it means accomplishing the project in phases. Any industrial automation project should factor in how and in what way its implementation will benefit the company. One key measure is efficiency—in time and operations. What will be the measurable time savings in production, and how much will it reduce current operational costs? How will automating a process increase operational efficiency in production and quality to increase customer satisfaction and retention? Another goal is the extent to which the custom automation project enhances your product’s profitability and helps increase your market share. In developing your plan, from the outset, the commercial viability of the undertaking should be front and center to maximize its success and ensure your ROI.
3. Meeting Current and Future Space Requirements
When designing and building a custom automated process or machine, it’s essential to factor in size and placement within the factory, shop floor, or production line. In other words, the footprint for the project within the factory or plant must be well-established in advance. What are the project’s space requirements? Having that conversation with your team is a must. The available space to implement the project is just as important as knowing how much space to dedicate to integrate it with minimal disruption to the overall system fully. Thinking ahead—is this phase one of a bigger, bolder plan? If so, keep in mind any space required for expansion. Whatever your plans are for the project, you must have enough real estate to ensure its success.
4. Partner With An Experienced Designer
A custom automation project is a collaborative process that starts with a plan. Once developed, it’s time to approach an experienced designer of custom automated manufacturing machinery and industrial-engineered automation systems. Experience counts, and each of the engineers at EAM Inc. has decades of experience in design automation—experiences that have constantly exposed them to the nuances of many unique markets across different industries. Our niche is in specialized automated applications utilizing emerging technologies that we leverage to our partner’s benefit. Once a relationship has been established, we take your plan, collaborate with your team, and offer innovative design concepts to choose from. Once approved, we fabricate, build, test, install, and provide training and ongoing service.
EAM works with companies to help them turn their custom project concept into reality. We can help you increase efficiency and reliability and improve quality and productivity to help ensure an ROI on your investment. We have provided innovation and custom automation solutions to various companies for decades. If you have a custom automation project and need a collaborative partner, contact us at EAM to discuss developing solutions that can bring increased value to your manufacturing process that will save you time and money.