Taking a Design-First Approach to Automation Technology
May 3, 2020

The Scenario

 

A local manufacturer intended to complete the setup and installation of a high-speed printing machine as well as design and implement a packaging solution. They believed that the printing machine was ready to be deployed in their facility, and they were looking for a local company with automation expertise to fulfill this need.  

However, as JAE Automation became familiar with the project, the client, and their production process, it became clear that the current iteration of the machine did not meet their requirements. There were numerous improvements that needed to be made before the machine could provide the performance, capabilities, and functionality demanded by the client.  

To overcome these issues and deliver a better solution, JAE Automation took a step back and implemented a design-first approach to developing a new machine.  

 

The Engagement 

 

The client initially approached JAE Automation to install and commission the printing machine in their facility. As new criteria were uncovered and presented to the client, JAE Automation was subsequently selected to design, assemble, build, test, install, and support the redesign of the printing machine and supply an automated packaging system. 

The client chose JAE Automation for their diverse range of capabilities and expertise. They wanted an Eastern Ontario-based company that could deliver a turnkey automation solution including controls, electrical, mechanical, design and build, and safety.  

Throughout the engagement, the client appreciated the open, transparent, and ongoing approach to design. Even though a fixed, and defined deliverable would have been welcomed, they were receptive to new ideas through the process that made things better. 

With experience working on internal projects, the client took an active role in the design. Their collaboration provided JAE Automation with valuable insight into their product and the production challenges associated with manufacturing it.   

 

The Approach 

 

A design-first approach was used in this project to ensure a rigorous, repeatable process that allowed for feedback and improvements to be incorporated into the final deliverable. The approach kept everyone working toward a common goal and allowed for transparent communication between JAE Automation and the client when new criteria were uncovered.  

 

JAE Automation followed a five-step process that moved the client from planning to closeout.  

 

 

The Solution 

 

JAE Automation designed, built, installed, and commissioned an automated printing and packaging system that was superior to the previous iteration. The design and testing phases of the project led to enhancements that would otherwise not have been discovered until much later in the project.  

Safety requirements were considered from the very beginning, and the safety design ensured the machine met all standards and regulations before being installed at the client’s facility. This avoided any unexpected delays or redesigns due to a failed safety inspection.  

Additionally, JAE Automation created various proof-of-concepts to test the design with real products and materials. In one test they determined how the packaging would be brought into position on the conveyor system, including stopping, starting, and positioning. In another, they saw how the product would load into the packaging. 

Among other improvements, these tests led directly to the automation technology that was incorporated into the design.  

 

The Results 

 

The goals identified at the beginning of the engagement allowed JAE Automation to determine the design criteria and guide the project to success. By following a design-first approach, issues were viewed as an opportunity to make things better rather than as a setback or delay.  

Because the initial project was intended to be a simple installation, it was agreed through conversations with the client that additional budget and time would be required to meet the new requirements. The client saw the value of these proposed changes and was grateful for the more comprehensive engagement.  

By collaborating closely with the client at each stage, JAE Automation identified how the system could be improved and what automation technology was required to deliver a better solution.  

Eric Martin C.E.T.

Eric Martin C.E.T.

Electronic Engineering Technologist, is owner and President of JAE Automation. For over 23 years, Eric’s passion has been about making things, and how to make them better. Since founding JAE Automation in 2000, along with leading his team, Eric has been engaged in automation design for the automotive, consumer goods, food and beverage sectors and many more.