Augmenting with Technology
Technology provides agility to capitalize in new markets. When asked about which technologies are helping transform operations , many of our experts on the panel pointed to emulation. Bakery packaging equipment manufacturer, LeMatic recently designed proof-of-concept machine testing with emulation leading to $1.8 million order. Leveraging Emulate3D™, the manufacturer was able to show exactly how product would run and gain the customer's confidence before any investment was made. FlexLink also shared how Digital Twins are helping gain management buy-in, in a conservative industry that is always striving to compare solutions by cost. Augmenting operations with technology provides the foundation needed for future growth.
Like many industries, manufacturing is constantly trying to train and maintain a skilled workforce. This was proven even more challenging during the global pandemic when travel restrictions became a barrier for maintenance and training to be performed. These times led to many companies making an investment in the combination of Virtual and Augmented Reality tools, known as “Extended Reality (XR)”. Wearable technology with digital work instructions or remote support can help you extend your workforce where resources are limited or on-site travel is restricted. In addition to the cost savings from travel reduction, XR tools can also help speed up the time it to onboard a new employee with quicker and more accurate training. Reduced downtime, errors and cost are just a few of the benefits that can be gained from a properly augmented workforce.
In recent years one of the largest focus areas for customers and consumers alike has been sustainability. From design to delivery, how you manufacture an item is often as important as what you are manufacturing. During our discussion at Automation Fair®, sustainability was top of mind for many of the companies present, both participating in the panel and in the audience. In fact, our live poll during the forum found that 88% of attendees’ organizations are acting on sustainability or ESG-related factors – either driven by the company or its customers. Some examples of sustainability evolution among our panelists come from Hiperbaric which is expanding in green hydrogen compression, to better support storage and transport needs of hydrogen and Pagès Group, which is addressing its footprint with its Molded Fiber Labeling series. Sustainability is a key differentiator in the eyes of consumers and your competition. It is clear that OEMs need to be proactive in this area and ready to meet evolving sustainability requirements.
Ready to Pivot
One of the most important takeaways from the forum discussion at Automation Fair® was the need for OEM flexibility. In this post, we have already covered a number of internal and external factors that are challenging machine builders today – and that list continues to grow each day with even more complexity. The common thread among most all these challenges, however, is that the more flexible you are in operations, the more likely you can adjust and overcome challenges quicker. Whether you are adjusting for a new customer requirement or End User maintenance need – pivoting your technology and talent can help you get ahead. After recognizing that many customers did not have resources for maintenance, one of our panelists invested in a Computerized Maintenance Management System to help with troubleshooting, logging and preventative maintenance that helped them provide service with their own resources. Attention to the customer’s needs and the quick action to augment with technology goes great lengths to strengthen customer relationships.
With today’s rapidly changing marketplace, OEMs are being asked to deliver scalability, faster changeovers and allow for product variability. After meeting with customers to discuss their needs, putting the right technology and resources in place will help ensure you meet those needs. But it should not stop there. You need to continually be thinking with a “What’s Next?” mindset so that you are ahead of the curve when a change is needed and not playing catch up. Flexible operations and the ability to pivot with the marketplace will have a significant impact on driving future growth for your business and your customers.