Advantages and Disadvantages of Bespoke Machinery

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There is little doubt that off-the-shelf automated solutions have allowed the manufacturing sector to make significant strides over the past decade. The ‘one size fits all’ approach has provided automated products that are easy to purchase, install and maintain.

However, this approach has created something of an issue for companies with specific manufacturing requirements that standard automated machines struggle to provide. Customisation of the automated process can sound like a scary prospect to some who fear their factories will have to deal with lengthy downtimes and unmanageable sky-high bills.

As customers begin to understand more about the benefits of automation, these misconceptions are slowly beginning to change. With this in mind, we are going to run through some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with bespoke machinery.

Advantages

Improved Efficiency

The aim for any manufacturer is to increase throughput while maintaining and improving standards. Installing custom automation into your operation means a range of tasks can be completed faster, freeing up staff to concentrate on other areas of production. The knock-on effect means your product can be produced in larger quantities and at a faster rate. By increasing the size of orders you can take on board and subsequently, your sales opportunities, this will also provide a greater incentive for your sales force.

Accuracy

Bespoke automated machinery will replicate the exact same task thousands of times with extremely tight tolerance levels. A recent study found that 80% of errors that occurred during pharmaceutical manufacturing was due to human error. Custom automation will streamline the process even further, reducing this percentage figure significantly. Wastage control is a key part of any production line and being able to match the original design specifications lowers the cost of both the materials being used and purchased.

Lower Costs

The golden egg for any manufacturer. Custom automation ensures this can achieved without compromising the quality of your product. The idea that bespoke machinery costs more and takes longer to achieve a return on investment is a common misconception that surrounds the technology. Tailor made machinery can be adapted to integrate and optimise overall efficiency. Lower wage costs, energy use and improved use of materials will all help to lower production and unit cost.

Optimised Machine Usage

The common practice has been to purchase a range of automated machines that can each perform a specific individual task. This may seem like the most logical way forward but when you take into consideration installation time, man power, energy use and a number of other factors, are you really getting the most of your current automation set-up? Each business has an individual need – no matter how common the product – and custom automation makes the most of new and existing machinery, increasing productivity and ease of use.

 

Disadvantages

Job Security

A common fear that surrounds the increased implementation of automated machinery is the threat to the human workforce. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Automation should be utilised to undertake the dull and repetitive tasks that staff do not enjoy, assisting workers rather than replacing them. Using and improving their skills in other areas of the business will guarantee a number of benefits – stronger morale, higher productivity and a healthier bottom line financially.

Significant Upfront Costs

There should always be a detailed analysis of where and how the installation of bespoke machinery can improve the manufacturing operation. Before seeing a ROI, the initial cost of purchasing automated machines will be relatively high, along with any training and education required for the workforce. If a convincing case can be made for moving towards automation, make sure you consult with a supplier that can guide you step-by-step.

Technology Longevity

Every manufacturing process will evolve and change over time and the concern is that custom automation will not be adaptable enough. However, this can be avoided. Much of this comes down to forward planning and allowing room for tweaks and changes to be implemented over time. Working with a supplier that understands both this and your company’s requirements, will allow them to install bespoke machinery that can be adapted over time.

 

Conclusion

The reasons for switching to custom automation vary from case to case but there are clear advantages to be had by moving away from manual or commercially automated processes. By implementing a careful and considered plan of action, any downsides can be managed to achieve the desired results.

If you are still unsure it must be remembered that you don’t have to fully overhaul your manufacturing equipment in one fell swoop. The above is intended as a brief introduction to the pros and cons of bespoke machinery but we are always on hand to discuss your requirements in more detail. We’d love to answer any further questions you may have, so feel free to call us on 01223 499488 or email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

Send us the Specification of Your Bespoke Automation Project

 

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