It can be tempting to pursue new robot technology. However, before you let fascination rule, you should clarify your needs and demands of the solutions.

As a Danish company, you are constantly presented with new smart technologies, which enable the use of automation and robots to effectivize processes and workflow. There is no doubt that we live in an extremely exciting time with riveting technological development.

On the flip side, this constant development of so many new solutions and possibilities also makes difficult to decide when to join the automation wave.

In reality, it rarely makes sense to buy a robot, just because it’s a new technology. But which considerations should you actually make before you look for a smart solution, which you imagine can be used in your own business?

Here’s a handful of simple rules and methods based on Gain & Co’s experience from advising more than one hundred production companies:

1

Don’t select a technology first – only to then find a suitable place to apply it in the business. Begin by finding the processes in businesses, which have the greatest potential for automation. Once a process is selected, you can begin searching for the best solution.

2

Optimize workflows around the selected process by methods such as LEAN, before needs and demands for a technological solution are determined. Often changes to workflows can result in an altered potential, e.g. by the process taking less time to complete. Only when the flow surrounding the process is optimized, it becomes possible to estimate the actual potential for automation.

3

Concretize the potential of automating the process. Is it possible to achieve higher productivity, and thereby more money on the bottom line? Increased and more uniform quality? A better work environment? Building experience with new technologies and methods? A clear definition of the potential gives a good basis for decision-making prior to investment.

4

Describe the demands for the solution, so all parties agree on functionality, e.g. of a robot. How many different variants of items must the robot be able to handle? How fast of a conversion must be possible? Does the operator need to be able to train or program the robot for new tasks on his own? With clearly defined demands, it becomes much easier to find the right solution.

5

Make sure to obtain offers from more than one vendor prior to making an investment. It may seem logical, but many businesses forget. Either because you believe only a single vendor can deliver the solution, or because it is easier to buy from the vendor, you’re already a customer of. Unfortunately, this often results in the solution being bought at too high of a price. Three offers can save both time and money.

These rules of thumb have in our experience aided companies to reach a great degree of success in their technology investments. With a well-thought-out procedure, the risk of in purchasing new technology can be notably reduced, and often a better purchasing price can be achieved. Especially because the concrete needs have been thought through and are well described, so you are sure to receive the optimal automation solution.

About Mikkel Viager – robot- & automation consultant
  • Civil engineer in automation and robot technology with more than 10 years of experience in development of robot technologies as well as technological risk management of automation projects.
  • Has visited, estimated and consulted several hundred companies across many industries.
  • Aids companies in finding the ‘low hanging fruit’ in automation: Initiatives with the greatest gains and lowest risk

This post was also published in Magasinet Industri & Teknik nr. 6, issued by the trade association ‘Arbejdsgiverne’.