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Converting Machine Builders: Speed Development, New Revenue Streams

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Production machinery is a significant investment for manufacturers. Particularly in the world of web converting where, as you know, a single machine can cost millions of dollars.

This means everything associated with the machine and its operation is magnified, both the good and the bad. Downtime can cost brand owners tens of thousands of dollars per hour. And just a slight improvement in cycle time adds up quickly to bottom line profitability for your customer.                                              

So how do you avoid the downtime and improve cycle times? Enter smart machines.

As a machine builder, implementing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology and making machines intelligent isn’t a new concept. But doing so on a larger scale, with the agility to meet varying customer demands is a complicated endeavor.

Machine logic, data reporting and machine analytics for one customer might not apply to the next, and you’re back to square one. An inflexible IIoT solution can be worse than none at all as your engineering team struggles under the pressure to program and reprogram each time a custom request comes in.

FactoryTalk® Innovation Suite is an answer that many OEMs are turning to for a flexible, Industry 4.0 package that satisfies the needs of machine builder and machine user.

It Starts With Improving End-User Productivity

Let’s say you have a tissue converting customer looking to optimize output and minimize downtime and maintenance. At the same time, they need to do this with a labor force that is less skilled and less experienced than in years past. This scenario is all too common.

Success requires a combination of application knowhow, an information-enabled strategy and a tool set that can help you satisfy customer goals. Wouldn’t it be nice if a control system automatically adjusted and mitigated issues through its own algorithms? In the case of tissue converting, it could handle compliance changes in the web or mitigate mechanical resonance in the system using notch filtering. This is the promise of Industry 4.0.

Another customer pain point that information enablement can address is machine maintenance. Instead of changing log saw blades at timed frequencies, shouldn’t the system provide an understanding of blade dullness so they’re only changed when needed? And when they are changed, additional work instructions could be provided through augmented reality to ensure proper change out procedures have been followed.

In an era of workforce shortages, machines equipped with this type of technology will be invaluable to brand owners. And as the machine builder, only you know your equipment well enough to do this right. With the help of the right controls partner and a streamlined solution, you can add immediate value for customers, lessen the strain on your limited resources and get your smart machines to market faster.

Integrated Control System Shortens Machine Development Time

The benefits of partnering created a competitive advantage for Curt G. Joa, Inc., maker of converting machines for global manufacturers of diapers and other personal hygiene products. Facing a dynamic, constantly changing market, they wanted to standardize development of their highly customized machines for faster and more efficient delivery.

Curt Joa worked with Rockwell Automation to implement design software that helped standardize up to 80 percent of its database content. They also used virtual solutions for remote-access as well as a robust, secure integrated architecture.

“When a customer request comes in, we can import our existing modules as needed to build machines to the customer’s specifications,” said Jerry Holzer, electrical engineering technology leader at Curt G. Joa, Inc. “This is crucial to our design-process productivity since we don’t make a fixed type of machine, but we can use standards-based programming modules to help build customized solutions faster.”

Remote Revenue, the New OEM Landscape

The benefits of a more repeatable process for building smart machines go beyond productivity for your customers and faster development time for you. OEMs are now selling uptime as a differentiator and looking to remote monitoring as a new revenue stream.

With constant pressure on machine margins and skills gap challenges, your ability to provide aftermarket support, spare parts and service contracts will be invaluable moving forward.

Imagine knowing of a pending failure point on your machine at an end user location. The opportunities for new revenue and service efficiency are now at your fingertips. By centrally supporting your customers, you can optimize service costs. And where appropriate, you can generate new value (and new revenue) by recommending spare parts or service calls to mitigate the impending failure.

The good news is, you’re likely already on your way to a more connected and automated offer for your business. But taking the next step toward repeatable programming on the front end and revenue driving aftermarket services on the back end, is still uncharted territory for many.

This vision is absolutely attainable with the right partner, and anyone can do it regardless of current information systems knowledge. Delay will only ensure you continue to sell on price.

Read on about key considerations for developing smart machines and equipment in our eBook (PDF).

Evan Kaiser
Evan Kaiser
Global Business Manager ? Converting, Print, Web, Rockwell Automation
Evan Kaiser

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