Simple Automation Helps Offset Economic Downturn for Moldmaking Applications
Reducing costs and achieving greater productivity within an existing mold manufacturing facility, while improving customer service, are all essential to softening the impact of these uncertain economic times. It’s a difficult challenge, but one that can be successfully met by initiating simple automation. Simple automation is the installation and integration of automated storage and retrieval systems— such as vertical and horizontal carousels and vertical lift modules (VLMs)—into mold manufacturing operations.
It’s doing more with less—more efficient order picking operations at less cost with smaller staffs, by using the right combination of equipment and software significantly improving efficiency. Automated systems have the advantage of significantly increasing productivity, up to two-thirds in some applications, while offering a more accurate method of maintaining inventories and reducing mispicks. In doing so, they increase operator efficiency and productivity, reduce inventory levels and improve customer satisfaction.
What Makes Simple Automation Work?
Conventional static storage systems like shelving and cabinets require order pickers to spend up to 70 percent of their time searching for molds and only 30 percent actually retrieving them. Automated storage and retrieval systems allow quick access to goods by bringing them to the operator at an ergonomic height, reversing search time to 70 percent item retrieval and only 30 percent dwell time. In some mold manufacturing operations, productivity can increase more than 400 percent as a result.
By providing 100-percent accessible storage and delivering stored items at an ergonomically optimized height, all bending, stretching and reaching is eliminated. Operators simply scan a barcode or enter the part name or number into the system and stored items are automatically delivered to the operator, reducing labor requirements by up to 66 percent.
Automated systems also take advantage of unused overhead space. “Floor to truss” space optimization can reclaim up to 85 percent of the space used by traditional rack, shelving and drawer systems.
Easy-to-use controls and software plus integrated pick-to-light technology improve throughput up to 600 percent in some applications while increasing accuracy to 99.9 percent levels. Inventory management and control software can be used alone or interfaced with proprietary inventory control software to assure optimum inventory levels.
All of these benefits of simple automation add up to significant savings, with a return on investment in as little as 18 months, depending on the type of system installed.
Companies looking to reduce the impact of the slower economy should consider simple automation as an easy way to reduce costs, improve overall storage and retrieval efficiency and make the best use of existing facilities.
Niche marketing, a commitment to technology and short leadtimes equal success for this producer of blow molds-and earns them MoldMaking Technology magazine's 2004 Leadtime Leader award.
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