How many opportunities do you have to automate a manual process in your manufacturing facility? Look around, you might be surprised.
One of my customers had a manufacturing process that required – get this – a worker to bypass a few hydraulic cylinder and valves, then manually push and pry the machine, then climb up on the machine and lock down a new position. The object that they were positioning was a large drilling device (it was an X-Y positioning system.)
This manual changeover took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. A perfect opportunity to automate a manual process.
While climbing around on a machine tool probably isn't one of the most hazardous jobs in America, the whole process certainly deserved a second look.
I asked them if they ever considered positioning with some sort of electro-mechanical system such as a demo I previously showed them — the Parker ETH Cylinder. The conversation continued over a few weeks, we brought in some engineering help, and the solution was purchased and integrated.
The new Parker-powered system paid for itself in less than 12 months year. The customer gained large production efficiency and lower cycle times (under a minute). Not to mention a much safer process to facilitate the changeover. Now, the PLC tells the system where to position itself and everything happens automatically.
No word on what happened to the guy whose job used to be climbing around on the machine.
Trevor Sisco works with customers out of Innovative-IDM's Chicago store. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.