Preparing for automation
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  1. #1
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    Default Preparing for automation

    I'm curious on how you guys go through with automating a part or machine in your shop. Do you guys usually hold meetings to prepare and plan on what to do. We have done a few things to automate but it always seems like a big confusion at some point between design and fabrication. It always seem like we are adjusting or changing things all the time because we are not on the same page. I am just wondering what you guys do to plan and prepare to automate.

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    Sounds like you didn't make clear enough plan, with detailed drawings, floor layouts,
    tooling changes, material & part flow diagrams, etc.

    And then get buy in from EVERYONE AFFECTED.

    So things get changed when they hit the floor ?
    Could be employees don't want to run with what your proposing ?
    Scared of losing their job ?

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    Once again some new guy shows up, asks an innocent question, and someone has to start barking, growling, and lunging at the end of their chain after them.

    Why did I know this before I even read either post?

    Without new arrivals this forum dies a lingering death.

  4. Likes empwoer, motion guru liked this post
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3t3d View Post
    Once again some new guy shows up, asks an innocent question, and someone has to start barking, growling, and lunging at the end of their chain after them.

    Why did I know this before I even read either post?

    Without new arrivals this forum dies a lingering death.
    You really, really, need to start reading with comprehension before posting sir.......

    Now, back to the OP.
    If they will simply add more details about their failed attempts, I'm sure we can all
    provide them with some help.

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    Is the design detailed or build conveyor about 20' long with rolls 6" oc- failing to have legs or height? Detailed means every screw, every part is drawn fully.

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    Design and fabrication would benefit from working with each other. Fabrication needs to understand what and why a feature is important. Design needs to include features (locating holes, register surfaces, etc.) that allow fabrication a way of moving the part through the process. Design has already done most of the work in creating the part, fabrication has to have a realistic process/plan in mind that allows the part to remain true to the design intent. Easier said than done, most places seem to have little regard for the other. Someone further up the pay scale from both needs to decide when compromise is in order and from which department or it will simply become a tug of war. Without willing co-operation success will be mediocre, at best.

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    There are different levels of automation. Bar feeding is automation. All the way up to automation of load/unload, in process inspection, deburring, et al. Where are you in the spectrum?

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    My main question is mainly asking you guys what your process is when you plan to automate an area. By planning, holding meetings, layout, etc.

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    Maybe you need to define an "area" for us.
    Typically we're way less corporate than your questions and more entrepreneurial: does it solve a problem, how quick is the ROI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amanor View Post
    I'm curious on how you guys go through with automating a part or machine in your shop. Do you guys usually hold meetings to prepare and plan on what to do. We have done a few things to automate but it always seems like a big confusion at some point between design and fabrication. It always seem like we are adjusting or changing things all the time because we are not on the same page. I am just wondering what you guys do to plan and prepare to automate.
    Who's driving the bus in your shop?

    This isn't an automation problem. This is a dysfunctional management problem.

    A competent manager will hold meetings with key people as required, and plan projects accordingly.

    "Uhh... hey guys. Do you think we need to have meetings to discuss stuff?" - said no competent manager ever.

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    To fix a problem you need a professional manager

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    Detailed meetings help.
    Lay out what success will look like. This will help avoid the "never ending" project.

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    Planning? They buy the equipment then throw it at us. Make it work!

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    For certain there needs to be meetings. There needs to be a concept meeting where the problem is clearly defined and solutions are brainstormed. This meeting should include ALL stakeholders especially including floor personnel. Without a clear problem statement the project will become unmanageable. Without input and buy-in from the folks on the floor the project will likely fail to some degree.

    Regular followup and design review meeting should be held to give progress reports and solicit input from the folks on the floor that will be working with it. The input from the floor folks is invaluable in ironing out design, operational and ergonomic issues before serious money gets spent. These design review meetings should be detailed and include things like:
    a) Logic flows so that folks can give input on operational issues, debugging, etc and it familiarizes them with how the system will work so they can more easily troubleshoot it when it is in production.
    b) control placement - an important one related to operational issues
    c) Safety functions
    d) Ergonomic views (3D models) so that folks can see what they are working with and where they are physically located when working with it.

    Make sure you address whatever issues are brought up one way or another. This doesn't mean bend to whatever they demand. Implement what makes sense and is affordable, but if something can't be changed give a real reason it can't, don't just say no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonytn36 View Post
    For certain there needs to be meetings. There needs to be a concept meeting where the problem is clearly defined and solutions are brainstormed. This meeting should include ALL stakeholders especially including floor personnel. Without a clear problem statement the project will become unmanageable. Without input and buy-in from the folks on the floor the project will likely fail to some degree.
    True but its counsel of perfection for folk who are used to doing this sort of job and keeping "big ticket" management processes under control. Which is hard.

    My experience is that many projects go pear shaped because its so easy to get caught up in the management thing leading to concentration on the process rather than what you are trying to do. Most especially when the project isn't really big enough to stand full on formal management. Which is where most of my experience lies.

    I recall one project where all the money, outside of the capital equipment budget which I snaffled on day 3, was spent on management leaving none to do the work! OK I knew what was coming when the team was formed and had a work around ensuring that at least something was done but I never did manage to get the project manager (I got a PhD I know everything type)to understand why it was going to be a disaster from day one.

    Hint "Cost in the meetings properly from day 1". When you are in a meeting about this sort of project you are not doing the day job. So meeting time charges out at 2 or 3 times your normal hourly rate. Unless meetings is all you do. In which case why the hell are you there anyway!

    For smaller projects you are much better off starting with a small hit team led by one multi skilled individual who can quickly sort out order of magnitude costings and capabilities for a range of solutions that can be distributed to the right folk for rapid response comments. Once you have sensible views on what is affordable and what you get for your money its time for the meeting with the other folk to discuss the proposals and firm up on where you want to go so it does what the users need.

    Forget PowerPoint presentations if you want the meetings to be useful.

    Folk need to have read things at leisure and made their margin comments first so they can discuss things. PowerPoint is good for showing the "hold their attention" graphics and flip boards great for noting what folk say. PowerPoint presentations are also great for putting folk to sleep after lunch and deferring any proper work until the next meeting but useful they aren't. Unless inside guy has already made the decisions! Which was the only time I used PowerPoint presentations.

    If you only have one concept that clearly can be made to work just cost it and do it unless its seriously expensive. Just make sure that you have open communication profiles to link up to whatever you do next. Back in the day communications and transfer were major, major issues with automation. These days unless its scary fast its usually cheaper to make sure you can do a bridge if need be and forget the details.

    Clive

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    Meetings is how automation gets deployed? Good grief, I've been doing it wrong for the last 100+ robotic cells I've designed and deployed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Punkinhead View Post
    Meetings is how automation gets deployed? Good grief, I've been doing it wrong for the last 100+ robotic cells I've designed and deployed.

    I didn't say anything about deploying. I understood this thread to be about preparing for automation. Preparation and deployment are two different animals. I've also designed and deployed a couple hundred robotic cells. There were meetings involved with both design and deployment.

    Not sure how you would even know what to design if you didn't have some type of meeting to find out specifics of what you were to design.

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    I get Statements of Work.


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