When one first looks at an automotive manufacturing plant, the thought of identifying opportunities for automation may be overwhelming to some.
These plants are multi-functional and complex. A typical plant manages several processes, such as:
- Press, stamping, and dye automation
- Welding, joining, and body in white
- Final assembly
- Robot cell
- Material handling, including AGV, conveyor, and ASRS
- Engine and powertrain assembly
- Casting and machining parts
- EV and EV sub-processes
Navigating the complexity of the automation processes in your plant to promote more automation products will take some time. You will have to look at this task by:
Time. When tackling a large automotive plant, it’s important to understand how to dissect it into smaller parts and spread out your strategies over a full year or two.
Understanding. Probably the most important thing is to understand the processes and flow of the build assembly process in a plant and then to list the strategic products that can be of use in each area.
Prioritizing. Once you have a good understanding of the plant processes and a strategic timeline to present these technologies, the next step is to prioritize your time and the technology to the highest return on investment. You may now learn that your company could use a great deal of weld cables and weld sensors, for example, so this would be your starting point for presenting this new automation technology.
Knowing who to talk to in the plant. The key to getting the best return on your time and fast approval of your automation technology is knowing the key people in the plant who can influence the use of new automation technology. Typically, you should know/list and communicate monthly with engineering groups, process improvement groups, maintenance groups, purchasing and quality departments. Narrowing down your focus to specific groups or individuals can help you get technology approval faster, etc. Don’t feel like you need to know everyone in the plant, just the key individuals.
Knowing what subjects to discuss. Don’t just think MRO! Talk about the five technology opportunities to have new automation in your plant, including:
- Large programs and specs
- Project upgrades
Most people concentrate on the MRO business and don’t engage in discussions to find out these other ways to introduce automation technology in your plant. Concentrating on all five of these opportunities will lead to placing a lot of automation in the plant for a very long time.
So, when you look at your plant be very excited about all the opportunities to present automation throughout it and watch your technology levels soar to levels of manufacturing excellence.
Good luck as you begin implementing your expansion of automation technology.