Greater manufacturing efficiency: it’s the golden egg we’re all looking for. But it’s getting increasingly hard to find. The solution could be smarter automation, which involves lots and lots of data (‘big data’) and data collection and data-driven modelling. The smart machine then uses the models to automatically adjust its own behaviour (i.e. machine learning).
ATM Group, based in Salem, Germany, specialises in test systems for photovoltaic and semiconductor industries and has enjoyed considerable success since it was established in 2005. ATM’s CEO, Schadnusch Nejad, attributes this success to a range of factors, but emphasises in particular a policy of close co-operation with the company’s key suppliers. The five key benefits of this are:
Reduced time to market
When new products are identified or demanded, suppliers’ design engineers can provide advice on how systems can be easily adapted and rapidly integrated. This cuts development time, and ensures that machines work at optimum efficiency from day one. Suppliers can also tailor products to meet specific requirements, helping machine makers to achieve effective solutions to complex requirements.
Benefit from the supplier’s experience
Suppliers usually have extensive experience in the customer’s own industry. For example, ATM benefits from Omron’s years of involvement in the semiconductor industry, which enables Omron engineering and technical experts to support ATM’s designers during the integration of automation components.
Familiarity with products, systems and applications
It goes without saying that the supplier’s engineers are familiar with their own components and systems, and they also understand the challenges faced by users. This familiarity ensures that they can match products to requirements, to help develop solutions that precisely meet the end-user’s needs.
Knowhow from other sectors
Companies such as Omron work across a wide range of sectors, and design engineers acquire a comprehensive range of knowledge. An issue in one production process may have been encountered in an entirely different one – and the same solution employed.
Single-sourced components work well together
One of the key benefits of single-sourcing components from a reliable supplier is that they work efficiently and effectively together. At the same time, the importance of open-platforms should be emphasised, so that different third-party systems can talk to one another.
Establishing a long and close relationship with a supplier calls for careful management, making sure that prices remain competitive and that complacency doesn’t set in. But as ATM Group has shown, it can have significant benefits in aiding growth and building satisfaction with end-users.