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News archive for 2014


Vangelis Thomaidis

December 19, 2014 by

Planning for your New Year Automation Strategy

While you get ready for the end of the year, you’ll likely start to consider ways to improve your operations in the coming year. As you evaluate your budget, consider looking at automation as a way to save you money in the fiscal year ahead.

 

Automating for the First Time

 

If you’ve never automated before, you may be unsure of where to start. Ask yourself these questions to begin evaluating your options:

  1. How many distinct processes do I oversee in my facility? Would my efficiency or quality control be immediately improved by automating any of these isolated processes?
  2. Could I automate all or the majority of my processes into one automated system? How quickly will I get a return on investment if I consider full automation?
  3. Am I concerned about any processes that are very difficult for employees, are dangerous, or require a significant investment of time for a small output of product?

It may be difficult, from the outset, to see all of the ways that you could automate or to realize the extent to which you could improve your efficiency. By consulting with us for an evaluation, we can help you realize your best options for your budget, and the best ways to plan for future increases in your automation.

 

Increasing on your Automation

 

If you already have automated part of your systems, now may be a good time to consider new ways to automate to save your company time and money in the coming years. Whether or not you worked with us on your first machine design, we can help you evaluate how to best accommodate your expected growth potential with automation. We can design a system that uses your existing machinery, or a completely new system automated to the degree you see fit.

 

Upgrades and Retrofits

 

If you haven’t upgraded your machines in a while, now might be the time to do so. We can help you evaluate ways to improve your machine functionality by upgrading it or replacing old portions. This can be a great way to adapt your existing machines to meet contemporary demands without having to completely overhaul your system.

Call us at 760-741-7288 to get the proposal process started.

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December 10, 2014 by

Automation for Holiday Manufacturing Increases

The holidays can bring increased sales and productivity for many manufacturers, but frequently this increased demand can actually exceed the capacity of the manufacturer’s facilities.

During these times, manufacturers may hire seasonal workers for support, but for many, the end of the year is a good time to consider more sustainable practices for managing increased demand in the future.

Amazon, always on the forefront of technological change, currently uses over 15,000 Kiva robots for support in their 109 shipping centers. Amazon has been increasing their reliance on Kiva robots since they purchased Kiva Systems in March 2012.

The Kiva robots, each capable of holding up to 750 lbs, are used to collect merchandise from the storage areas of the shipping centers to bring to employees in charge of packaging and shipping. This is a pretty classic situation for automation: the company identified a task that would be greatly simplified and made more efficient by use of robots. According to RoboHub, the conversion rate of human to robot labor in this regard has been about one hour to every minute.

Lifting large, heavy loads can also be very dangerous, and so it especially makes sense to assign a job like this to robots instead of humans. However, in addition to exemplifying good automation practices, Amazon has also set a good example in their hiring. According to RoboHub, this year Amazon hired over 80,000 seasonal workers to support holiday shipping.

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November 21, 2014 by

Good Projections for a Strong US Economy in 2015

In a recent article at Automation World, analyst Alan Beaulieu encourages manufacturers to look forward to a strong growth potential for the US economy in the coming year, rather than spend time worrying about how news-popular topics will impact business.

As Beaulieu notes, when certain topics (like Ebola or stock market concerns) seem to dominate our news feeds, it can be hard to keep in perspective what the real expected impacts should be. Alarmist language, which makes for popular news stories, can also be greatly misleading and can create an undue sense of urgency in readers. In an excellent recent example, Mic.com author Jonathan Katz draws attention to a particularly inflammatory chyron from CNN: “Ebola: ‘The ISIS of biological agents?’” As Katz goes on to discuss, this kind of fanning the panic can lead to chaos and inappropriate responses. He uses the example of the media frenzy following the 2010 Haitian earthquake in which falsified reports of looting famine produced a lack of focus on and resources for the real issues.

In his column, Beaulieu does an admirable job of breaking down the real expected impacts of many international news topics with language that is free of any kind of unnecessary editorializing. Indeed, though several European nations may soon see recession conditions, the US has become so self-sufficient in many ways including energy resources, there is no real cause for alarm based on early indications of potential problems.

In addition, as we have previously reported here, the US has started to see an influx in re-shoring, and this trend has been relatively consistent since projections earlier in the year. This has meant that, though the economic climate of China may not stay stable, many companies have taken preemptory measures to safeguard against potential manufacturing interruptions.

Finally, Beaulieu ends his article with some excellent advice for the coming years: “Use the breathing room in 2015 to identify bottlenecks and improve processes. Shorten response and delivery times where possible to beat competitors and to gain market share. Be sure you have sufficient financing, raw materials, labor and capital set to go for a more robust economy in 2016 and beyond.”