Simplify component management with this handy do/don’t list

Here are some helpful suggestions to optimize your factory automation journey – and a few to avoid. 

This month’s featured article is a helpful do’s and don’t’s for anyone in automation controls, production management, or maintenance. Packed with valuable tips, condensed into a 2-minute read. What could be better? I hope you enjoy it!

By Sandia Harrison, Director of Marketing, FPE Automation

Does your inbox look like word salad or verbal spaghetti?

  “Word salad” and “verbal spaghetti” are funny ways that overwhelmed middle managers have come to describe the endless corporate jargon that comes their way. Defined as a mix of nonsensical words and phrases, unfortunately, a lot of what hits our inboxes falls into that category.

Do you run across phrases like these?

  • achieving efficient workflows
  • reducing labor costs
  • enhancing product quality
  • minimizing waste
  • supporting sustainability efforts

All of these are hot topics in manufacturing that have been in the news for quite a while.

You have probably noticed these industry trends – on repeat.

More than words.

Jargon aside, these topics are being discussed for good reason. They’re crucial aspects of improving competitiveness and profitability for your company. 

The trick is to make it all happen. Easier said than done? 

Good news! They are goals that may be more attainable than you realize.

Factor in lead times and other variables to avoid reactive maintenance.

DO use technology: leverage IoT and sensor technology to monitor component health in real time, and for controls. Predictive maintenance allows proactive identification of potential failures, reducing unplanned downtime and production disruptions. Software-driven automation is predictable and accurate.

DO regular performance analysis: Continuously assess component performance through data analysis. Identify areas for enhancement and collaborate with engineering teams to implement design or material changes.

AVOID reactive maintenance: Refrain from relying solely on reactive maintenance. Waiting for components to fail before taking action can lead to costly downtime and production delays.

Reaching your goals.

Do stock spare parts strategically: You don’t need a degree in supply chain management to maintain an organized inventory of critical spare parts based on usage trends and component lifecycles. Smart use of the reporting tools you already own should help you to minimize excess stock while ensuring the availability of the components you need to prevent prolonged downtime. If all else fails, FPE Automation has millions of items on the shelves and ready to deliver. We can also help you get things in a pinch.

Don’t neglect aging components: Neglecting aging components can result in unexpected failures. Regularly evaluate the condition of components nearing the end of their lifecycle and plan for timely replacements or upgrades.

Do consider collaborative robots: Consider collaborative robots (cobots) for enhanced efficiency. With safety features and versatility, cobots (like the one pictured on the right by Universal Robots), excel in pick and place, machine tending, packaging, process tasks, finishing, and quality inspection. They operate reliably around the clock. They work safely alongside humans with no guarding needed. Cobots can boost reliability in more ways than you may realize.

Do take lead times into account: Since COVID, lead times have been all over the board. When planning, remember to consider the duration between order placement and product receipt. Lead times impact production efficiency and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. Manage various factors, such as material procurement, production, and shipping times, to optimize your processes and ensure timely delivery.

Avoid Siloed Processes: Don’t keep processes isolated. Integrate all aspects of production, from planning and scheduling to execution. This promotes seamless communication and efficient coordination.

On the other hand, don’t rule out production cells: When looking at your production with an integrated approach, don’t underestimate the value of robot cells. Engineered for the specific products or parts they produce, robot cells can often be as close to a perfect solution as technology allows. They enhance material flow efficiency, communication, and waste reduction, yielding significant benefits for manufacturing processes. Check out our Handshake Solutions, where you can personally create your own concept at any level you feel comfortable.

Similarly, skip traditional production: Don’t rely solely on traditional mass production. Embrace flexible manufacturing systems to handle diverse product variations without compromising efficiency. Well-thought-out integrations allow quick changeovers and can accommodate varying demand.

In certain cases, consider using a Certified Systems Integrator (CSI): Consider leveraging the expertise of a Certified Systems Integrator (CSI). With technical expertise and business knowledge, CSIs uphold the highest standards, offering proven track records. They have already tested the solutions, so you don’t have to. New integrations can be a huge time commitment for already busy production engineers and maintenance managers. Hiring a CSI can help alleviate most of that burden while giving your staff the peace of mind that critical automation projects are in capable hands. FPE Automation can work with you, or help partner you with a qualified CSI.

Avoid rigid automation: Steer clear of fixed automation for processes that would perform better with some adaptability. Programmable automation provides versatility by accommodating different products and batch sizes. Agility is key.

And finally, choose the right partner: FPE Automation has an award-winning, in-house, team of engineers to assist you. We inventory large quantities of the products you need most. When we make recommendations, you can be confident that have your best interest in mind. Your success is our success.

New levels of productivity.

Incorporating these principles will propel your operations into the future of automation, where
interconnected systems, data-driven decisions, and agile manufacturing redefine efficiency and productivity. 

By adopting these practices, maintenance managers can optimize manufacturing component management, enhance equipment reliability, and contribute to the overall efficiency of the manufacturing process. 

FPE Automation is here to help.

From the smallest to the largest companies in the midwest, we have longstanding relationships that have stood the test of time. 

When there is a lot on the (production) line, we have experts who can:

  • team up with you to create effective solutions
  • send in experts to assess your needs and report back to you
  • put you in contact with a certified systems integrator (CSI), and help you to work with them to deliver exactly what you need

Whatever your needs are, FPE Automation has been here to help you manufacture smarter since 1963.

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