Launches Addtronics Custom Automation, combined entity of Missouri Tooling & Automation and Dynamic Design Solutions

A Beginner's Guide to Industrial Automation

November 9th, 2022

Today's ever-increasing competition in all industries forces businesses to consistently produce high quality products at a fair market price. Companies need to be thinking of new, innovative ways to stay competitive in today's market, and one of the most prevalent ways to do so is through industrial automation.

What is Industrial Automation & why is it important?

Industrial Automation is the combination of controls systems, such as computers, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or robots, and information technologies for the purpose of maintaining different processes and equipment. Typically, this is implemented in an industry to reduce human operator responsibilities. Adopting automation can help combat today's incredibly challenging labor market, focus manufacturing on product quality, reliability, and production rate, and reduce waste and unnecessary costs. Through the implementation of automation, companies will solve many of these issues and increase overall business efficiency.

How to know if you have a need for automation:

Automation is becoming increasingly important amid the manufacturing industry today. It is no longer a luxury to have automation within companies, but rather, a need. Are you falling behind compared to competitors? Are you struggling or unable to keep up with product demand? Are you struggling to find skilled labor? Have you identified automation as a need, but do not know what to automate?

When looking to implement automation, there are many different manufacturing processes that can be automated. It is extremely important to focus on a process that will have the greatest return on investment and largest payback. If your company is struggling with one of the following: to keep up with product demand, to find skilled labor, to maximize production and reduce quality issues, then automation should be implemented as soon as possible in your plant. When looking at what processes to automate, one should ask themselves the following questions: what are some of your biggest pain points or bottlenecks that are inhibiting your company to be successful? What steps in your processes are repetitive and/or include menial labor? What are your goals for your processes, and how can you achieve these goals?

What are the steps to select an integrator?

Once the need for automation has been identified, there are two different automation solutions: one being off-the-shelf automation and the other being custom automation. The following steps detail your process when looking to engage with machine builders to find a custom automation solution.

After you plan which process you want to automate (from above):

  1. Figure out what your timeline for the project is.
  2. Create a budget for the project and set specific key deliverables and metrics to achieve with the automation implementation.
  3. Research machine builders and select your top potential partners to work with based off their capabilities and limitations. Can this automation be tailored to the parameters of the project in terms of part specifications and space requirements?
  4. Investigate your potential partners, especially their industry expertise and past project examples, to see if their work aligns with your goal.

The end goal with this stage in the process is to find potential automation partners with a long-standing reputation in the industry and with diversification of associate experience and project work.

How to buy automation?

Once you select the top partners, contact them, and start a conversation to determine the fit in moving forward with the project. Finally, request an on-site visit from a sales representative and/or applications engineer to better understand your manufacturing challenge and the potential solution. If an on-site visit is not feasible for your company, do not worry! By providing video demonstrations and product specifications, applications engineers are able to assess the project and can then curate a solution for your need. Once you have initiated the conversation, the next step is for the integrator to determine if the project is a good fit for them. They will then move forward with providing a proposal.

This proposal will outline the reason you are looking to automate, what the project specifications are, the proposed solution, lead time, and an overall price for the described scope. Following receiving the quote, it is in your hands to review the proposals you have received, determine who your selected partner is, then move forward with a purchase order and begin the automation project.

At Addtronics, we provide custom automation systems for companies for a variety of industries. These industries include automotive, aerospace & defense, industrial, consumer goods, packaging, medical devices, energy, and life sciences. Contact us today by clicking here.

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