There are plenty of reasons to consider automation in your product-based business.
One of the toughest challenges in bringing innovative products to market is bridging the gap between proof of concept and volume manufacture. It’s especially challenging for early-stage businesses who are navigating new materials, functions and technologies for the first time.
Efficiency and productivity are a key focus for all manufacturers. Automating tasks and processes involves an initial investment but can seriously pay off in long-term efficiency and productivity.
Part or fully automated production systems can solve a lot of common issues, but introducing automation needs careful consideration, planning and implementation to make sure that your business can realise all of the benefits.
Here are our top tips to get you started:
Can you start small?
Customised, automated lines can be expensive and take a long time to develop. That’s why it’s important to understand which parts of the process would bring the most benefits if they were automated.
Starting smaller allows you to automate one step at a time and ensures you see the results you need before investing heavily in a complex and costly customised automated line.
Do your research
The right automation equipment is unlikely to be easy to purchase ‘off the shelf.’ Make sure that you thoroughly research what you need for the processes that you want to automate and that you know exactly what to ask for from the machinery provider.
Set a realistic budget and payback period
Automation requires an investment upfront, so it’s important to understand exactly how much your business can reasonably afford to invest.
You’ll want to ensure that you receive a return on that investment, so it’s also important to identify what the estimated payback period is.
Take into account acceptance, installation and training. No machine earns its keep from day one, so your payback period should be reasonable.
Involve an automation specialist as early as possible.
The earlier you involve automation specialists, the better. They can provide you with invaluable advice and help you avoid any costly mistakes.
In this vein, it’s also important to give them as much information as possible. Your automaton supplier will want to build a strong business relationship with you based on trust. If you provide them with as much information as you can upfront, they can give you the best possible advice for your business.
If you’re concerned about confidentiality, utilise an NDA but don’t withhold information.
Produce a clear and comprehensive specification.
Your specification is crucial. Getting it right can save you time and money further down the line. Make sure your specification is clear and comprehensive. This is another area where a good automation supplier can help.
Expert advice is a worthwhile investment.
Getting expert advice can seem like just another cost, but it’s one that can save you a lot of money down the line. From feasibility to design, expert advice helps you remove risks and leverage opportunities that you would have missed.
When choosing an expert consultant or automated manufacturing company, look for a lot of experience and a good track record of delivering successful automation projects.
Continuous improvement is key
Getting the biggest return on your investment requires a development team that are committed to be constantly on the lookout for ways to do things better. A continuous improvement approach can also help you improve quality and mitigate risks.
Innomech are recognised as one of the UK’s leading automation specialists. We work with all kinds of businesses, from established FTSE 100 companies to early-stage businesses.
Regardless of size, we take great pride in delivering excellence, and establishing strong business relationships based on trust.