Manufacturing is subject to the same trends we see in technology as a whole.
For example, it won’t be long before most plant floors are monitored via tablet device instead of a PC, HMI, or clipboard.
In his keynote presentation, Industrial Automation in the New Digital World, Technology Futurist, Jim Pinto, points out the speed at which technology is moving and the global race to produce cheaper, faster, and better.
The point is that there is both technology and competitive change underway that will require new resources you likely don’t have. To be prepared and remain competitive, an engineering service provider is needed. Here are the top reasons to keep one on speed dial:
1. Focus on Core Business – As products, services, and regulations change, so do resource demands. If these fluctuations cause disruptions or detours to the main mission of producing goods for a given market, delivery is delayed and the competitive advantage is lost. A service provider is there to support mechanical, electrical or software engineering needs without having to take production staff or engineers off planned responsibilities and core business goals.
2. Prevent Extended Downtime – An Operations Manager recently said, “It’s not about the money,” in regards to paying an engineering provider when a line is down and there either isn’t anybody to troubleshoot and fix it or there isn’t the skill set to fix it. Downtime has an adverse ripple effect that spans from wasted labor to delivery delays. Contracting an engineering provider with 24/7 emergency service can easily pay for itself when things go wrong and can potentially pay for an entire annual retainer with one mitigated disruption.
3. Tap into Experienced Talent – One of the significant benefits realized in using an engineering service provider is the experience that comes from years of building or troubleshooting unique control and automation systems.
It’s likely a controls engineer or field service rep has come across a given issue or knows a better way to accomplish a desired outcome because they have seen the good, bad, and ugly. Experience is a time saver and potential antidote for disasters that loom in the future.
4. Differentiate or Die – In Jim Pinto’s presentation, he notes that many products have become commodities and therefore margins continue to shrink. To compete in today’s global market, differentiation and agility are key.
Large factories are in the past; smaller, distributed factories that can suit local demands and styles will win due to the greater agility they offer to modify products within a short period of time. A service provider with custom engineering capabilities augments skilled labor and builds controls or automation machines that help speed product changes and time to market. As Pinto says, “Those who can produce materials and products cheaper, faster, and better – win.”
5. Embrace Technology – As wireless and mobile devices proliferate, manufacturers have to expect this technology to make its way to the plant floor. A term you will hear more and more in the future is the Internet of Things (IoT). Pinto uses this term to foretell a day when everything is connected and that this will represent the next huge leap in productivity.
Operating costs will be significantly reduced and sensors, actuators, and other manufacturing devices become internet enabled. Until then, there is technology available to bring manufacturing devices and databases together that should be considered now. Rockwell calls it FactoryTalk®. A service provider that can help you adopt technology, such as data acquisition software, is critical to future success. For example, FactoryTalk brings you closer to the holy grail of manufacturing – predictive diagnostics. This happens when you can predict and prevent a failure instead of react to it, you know, when 2,000 defects are already on the truck.
With a shortage of talented engineers in the workforce, changing competitive and technology landscape, and the need to produce cheaper, faster, and better, an engineering service provider can pay for itself over and over. The beauty is you’re not paying for recruiting, training, or benefits, yet you can compete at a high level and deliver on time.