There are many reasons to automate in today’s assembly industry. When assessing your process, the question “Why” must be asked and answered. Why are you doing this? What do you hope to gain by automating? What is your goal? Most companies are looking to reduce cost and increase efficiency, quality, and safety. Because it is common for the assembly process to consume a great deal of time and resources, it often makes good (dollars and) sense to automate.
Now that you’ve determined that you need to automate, what is the next step? Automation is a complex undertaking requiring a myriad of skill sets. There are a relentless amount of questions to be asked and answered. A robot integrator provides knowledge, experience, and expertise. But how exactly do you select a robot integrator? What should you be looking for and what questions should you be asking? This article will provide the tips and tools to select a robot integrator you can trust.
When selecting an integrator, you can start by asking:
What is the breadth of knowledge of the integrator? Look at their portfolio of past and current automation projects. What are their connections and resources in terms of robots, PLC’s, and HMI’s? Do they have the staff and technical know-how to support your project?
What is the stability of the integrator? Are they part of a larger corporation? Have they been in business a long time? Do they have a good reputation? Are they an RIA certified robotic integrator? Can they provide references and testimonials for their work?
Will the integrator perform some simple rudimentary application work for you to prove out the project or provide a prototype? Most integrators, including ASG, will do this for free depending on the scope of the project. This will guide your robot and system selection.
Armed with these questions, you will receive quality feedback from integrators in regards to their business style and level of expertise.
It’s also important to perform both a formal and informal interview process with the integrator. Most automated machines last seven to ten years making it critical to develop a strong, confident, and trusting relationship with the integrator. By visiting existing installations, you will see first hand the work of the integrator. Ask for references and testimonials of past and current work being done to assess how other customers are being taken care of. The responses can help build confidence that the integrator has the experience you can rely on. Set up an informal gathering, such as lunch, to get to know the integrator on a more personal level. This will help in determining their character and if the integrator truly cares about you and your processes versus making a quick sale.
Your goals in pursuing the right integrator involve experience and integrity. These are the foundation of a good name in the business; and a good name is better than gold. If you perform your due diligence and find an integrator with high marks in both of these categories, your search is over.