Most manufacturers are subject to variations in demand often related to trends and new enthusiasm of the moment. In the past few years, it has been possible to notice a rise in popularity of electric vehicles or certain sports, such as kayak or paddle board. These new trends have forced some manufacturers to produce more in shorter lead times to meet demand.
What will happen if your company does not have the capacity to meet to this spontaneous growth?
The context frequently observed by company managers often comes down to a sales or exports rise, which must push for increased production within shorter delivery times.
Consequently, some production capacity stakes appear:
- Companies are facing an important labor shortage, which sometimes leads to overloading or refusal of some orders.
- Delays in the delivery of raw materials or synchronizing difficulties with the supply chain may occur.
- Due to slow and disorganized processes, the efficiency of equipment unused to the maximum of capacity is reduced.
These stakes are encountered in all manufacturing sectors, from transport to textile industries. To counter these stakes, Pierre Gabriel Côté, President of Investissement Québec, said in a recent intervention in front of the Conseil du patronat that “we need to automate and look for workforce to start the automation in factories”.
Innovative solutions for the manufacturer
“By 2020, in all industrial sectors, more than 1.7 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world,” according to a study by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). The biggest growth will be in China, but in America this year, robot installations are expected to increase by 16%.
Quebec is significantly behind in integrating Industry 4.0 into its manufacturing businesses.
To reach the maximum capacity of a production plant, the best solution is actually a combination of several expertises:
- Digital applications and technologies
- Process development and optimization
- Supply chains and logistics
- Change management
- Automated and robotic working cells
- Performance indicator and continuous improvement (lean)
- Tools to support operators
- Systems integration and equipment connectivity
For the manufacturer of kayaks and paddle boards as mentioned above, the optimization and the digital modernization of its factory could bring solutions to its stakes of production capacity. Indeed, the integration of digital technologies and robots would not only solve the problem of the shortage of skilled labor, but also increase the rate of production and help reduce operating costs. Needless to say, robotizing your factory does not mean you will not need skilled employees anymore. On the contrary, these new automated cells will need programming and maintenance, as well as employees to make them work. The other advantage is that it will be possible to do the same job more quickly by reducing the need or the training time of skilled labor. Traditionally, operators had to be highly qualified to perform factory work. In the case of kayaks, tasks such as drilling the hull must be done without error to avoid costly rejects. With the help of mobile applications and robotics, the operator’s work will be supported and simplified so that he can be guided through digital instructions and ensure the quality of the product.
Having supported more than 500 manufacturers and held conferences-workshops across Québec on productivity and industry 4.0, Merkur shares the same observation as many economic players on the issues of manufacturers.
Our smart factory experts have an innovative look on plant automation and bring customized solutions to their customers. Whether consulting, coaching or outsourcing, the Merkur team guides its clients to the best projects and technological solutions that promote a short-term return on investment.