Tips for Selling the Value of Automation

How to prove automation saves time on the shop floor.


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Those who work directly on the shop floor often come up with great ideas to improve productivity and make their jobs easier. The problem is conveying the need for these solutions to the shop’s decision makers.

DNC software systems and machine monitoring are two software investments on the shop floor today. DNC helps to network machines, organize thousands of programs and ensure programs are transferring correctly, while machine monitoring helps to increase utilization. These measures increase machine capacity, which in turn increases profits.

Both systems, however, are viewed as a deep investment for a manufacturer. The surface benefits of worker productivity are sometimes not enough to allow a decision to be made when an intangible solution like software is the option. The best way to show that investment is worthwhile is not by showing how it will help you, but rather how it will impact the company’s bottom line.

Here are three ways to present automation/IIoT investments on the shop floor to decision makers:

Find ROI

Show how much time a current process wastes and the cost of this waste to reveal that increased productivity will lead to profits. Research the potential ROI achieved by adopting a new automation solution. It’s all about profit, whether lost or gained. IIoT and automation solutions will help those employees directly involved in the manufacturing process to focus on programming, tool crib and related activities instead of actively managing machines. However, decision makers may not consider this enough of a reason to go forward.

Show ROI            

Use an ROI sheet to prove ROI. For example, a company used an ROI sheet that reflected its 30 machines running two programs a day and loading 300 programs a week. The average time to load a program took the company around 7 minutes. The sheet also showed the expense of the older process, which used outdated shop floor media to transfer programs, and estimated the time/money savings if the company upgraded to DNC.

Another option is to take data and develop a presentation (slideshow, video, or a spreadsheet) that shows the possible ROI from integrating automation into the daily routine. Request a private meeting or present during a weekly/monthly meeting where decision makers are present. Remember your audience. If it’s a group meeting, a spreadsheet is likely not the most exciting way to present the information.

Offer Alternative Choices

Have alternative options prepared in the interests of cost. There are multiple solutions to improve shop floor productivity other than replacing machines. For example, a smaller shop may not need a DNC system, but using hardware, such as a far less expensive portable DNC transfer box, could be a more realistic way to manage machine program transfers.

Also, machine monitoring as an on-premise solution can be a pricey move, but some providers offer more affordable options, such as cloud-based monthly payments with no contracts. You can even request a trial or a pilot run to see how well the system works initially.