Do you want to integrate automation into your manufacturing process but you’re unsure where to start? Maybe your biggest hurdle is justifying the costs associated with the change. Effectively communicating the reasons why and the ROI to all stakeholders in this major shift is a necessary starting point.
Justifying the Need to Automate
Increased production demand usually makes the easiest justification for automation with quality control and repeatability a close rival. As COVID has taught us, keeping a full staff of trained and qualified operators can be a challenge and automation reduces the reliance on human labor.
Consider the basic concept of Lean Manufacturing. In short, Lean is an approach designed to provide efficient and competitive production. Sounds simple in theory, right? But there is a lot involved in streamlining for efficiency. In a nutshell, the most profitable operations minimize waste and optimize their biggest resources. They drive initiatives that ensure maximum throughput and profits while ensuring their manufacturing processes are focused on quality.
Your machinery and your people are two of your biggest costs. In a world where everyone wants it faster and cheaper, and whether you have adopted Lean methodologies or not, every manufacturer needs to keep eyes on the goal of how to deliver the highest quality product with the best, most favorable margin.
Want to determine if you need to automate? Ask yourself:
Can you keep up with peaks of demand?
Are your customers demanding quicker delivery?
Is your HR cost unpredictable and do you have enough trained staff?
Is your process repeatable?
Engineering the Solution: Case Study Examples
At ELSNER, we start a project with detailed discussions with our customers. Our engineers and designers map out the current manufacturing process and determine what is needed to achieve production goals. Then they figure out the best technology to eliminate cumbersome and time-consuming tasks. Here are a few examples of how automation makes a significant impact on their production outcomes.
Coreless Underpadding Rolls Get a Boost
A medical supply company needed to replace an antiquated slitting and rewinding setup for coreless rolls of cotton undercast padding. The process was so labor intensive that they had to rotate operators every 30 minutes. We developed and built them the CUPR-50, an automatic small roll rewinder that saved them time, boosted efficiencies, and made their operators very happy. The machine used an automated web guide, integrated recipe driven controls, and an automated winding shaft recycle feature that improved quality and reduced labor.
Manufacturing a Complex Surgical Drape Goes Fully Automated
A manufacturer needed to automate the manufacture of a complex surgical drape. We took a fully manual process and completely automated it using several processes that include tube forming, ultrasonic sealing, die cutting, robotic pick and place and gantry solutions. Labor went from 14 employees to 2 employees and greatly boosted the number of drapes produced.
It’s worth noting the automated solution was designed with tight tolerances in mind. One process picks metal ‘buttons’ from a bowl feeder and places them on the passing web, easily achieving the customer tolerance of +/- 1/32”. Another pick and place operation uses a vision system to guide a robot arm to its target with repeatability measured to the thousandth of an inch and placed squarely on a passing web within 1/16”.
Automation for Reverse Osmosis Filtration Elements: Less Labor, More Consistency
A filtration company was assembling filter elements with a series of manual operations to fold membrane leaves, apply glue, build packs, roll the spiral element and apply protective tape to the outside.
We started by automating the membrane feed and cut-off, fold protection tape application, mesh spacer cut and placement, and folding. We more than doubled their leaf production with our automated membrane folder, the ELSNER EMF-42, putting out up to 10 leaves per minute.
We automated the glue bead placement on each leaf, which had been done manually by a team of two operators. Automating glue placement not only reduced labor and worker fatigue, but it also vastly improved the consistency of glue line placement. Having repeatable beads, one on top of the other, increased the active area of the final elements. The move to automation reduced labor, increased production, resulting in a superior product.
Automation for Future Growth
All things considered; you can see why automation is needed for optimum growth. You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to considering how to shift to automating your manufacturing. Engage an expert who has experience in customizing real-world solutions to real-world pain points. As you consider your growth plans, let us help. ELSNER has helped solve hundreds of problems over the years. And remember that if you’re NOT automating, you could be costing yourself in the long run.
ELSNER has earned a worldwide reputation for manufacturing automated and robotic converting machinery and production lines for a wide range of industries including paper, film foil, medical nonwoven disposables, filtration and wipes production. Our specialty is in designing and engineering custom, complex machinery that removes manual processes. As we continue to face challenges from labor, supply chain and COVID, there’s never been a time that more clearly highlights what NOT investing in automated solutions with cost you. Contact us for YOUR automated solution.
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