E-commerce is creating a perfect storm for industrial automation
The boom in e-commerce is driving a need for industrial automation. According to Statista, revenue from e-commerce in the United States amounted to 431.6 billion USD in 2020 and it estimates that by 2025, revenue will increase to 563.4 billion USD. Globally over 2.14 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021.
This shift in buyer behavior, which has gained even greater momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides huge opportunities for industrial automation. Specifically for those delivering innovative robotic warehouse automation systems, automated material handling systems, AI-driven mobile industrial robots and automated fulfillment solutions.
Delivering an innovative product to market can be challenging. Here are five ways we can help you get your innovative product to market quickly – increasing your competitive differentiation:
1. Great industrial automation needs great design
The impact of not having product design optimized for manufacturing can be costly:
- delayed time to market;
- a need to redesign supply chains from the ground up; and
- ultimately, a negative impact on the bottom line.
For highly complex products, such as warehouse automation systems or mobile industrial robots, these impacts can be further magnified due to the size and scale of the projects. It’s critical to consider Design for Excellence (DFX) early in the product development process to ensure your product reaches customers on time and provides profitable returns.
There may also be a desire to create more environmentally friendly products. Sustainable product design requires an approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product throughout its lifecycle.
2. Ensure productivity in your industrial automation supply chain
It is more important than ever to consider the supply chain perspective for product design, particularly in the current climate where there is considerable volatility.
- What is the cost of the components/materials selected?
- Is it optimized for manufacturability?
- What is the ongoing capability of the supply chain to scale to required levels?
- Will it be able to deliver a stable and sustainable supply to meet customer demand?
A supply chain that can offer the highest performance at the lowest overall cost, and often crucially the lowest risk, is a valuable differentiator.
3. Optimize your industrial automation manufacturing
There are a number of different factors to consider when optimizing your manufacturing approach:
The location. Many industrial automation products are large in size and therefore a manufacturing solution closer to the end customer will not only be a greener option, but could lead to a lower total cost of ownership.
The processes. As assemblies become more complex, the need for more robust manufacturing processes is critical. Particularly when the products have intricate mechanical designs. Industrial automation systems often include motors, pumps, point-to-point wiring and/or fluidics. Automation is a key element of continuous improvement and process optimization. It might make sense to automate only part of an assembly line and to rely on traditional manufacturing processes for system integration and full product assembly. Considering the extent to which the manufacturing processes should be automated, is an important element to create a custom manufacturing solution that drives down cost and increases quality.
The transition. It needs to be easy to get started. Expert transition management processes move a product from design to prototype into manufacturing, while maintaining the highest levels of quality, cost management and schedule adherence. All of which helps to create an environment for a risk-free transition into manufacturing.
4. Put the right quality checks in place
Quality is a non-negotiable. But how to achieve that? From the early stages of design to aftermarket services, maintaining a focus on quality is essential. Quality needs to be embedded into the culture with every individual understanding why their part in the process is crucial. Implementing the right test engineering solution that balances quality with investment and helps ensure zero defects, faster time to market and lower product cost will result in a flawless launch for your industrial automation products, every time.
5. Don’t let aftermarket services be an afterthought
Getting your industrial automation product to market isn’t the finish line. Consider the situation where a product fails in the field and the end customer therefore cannot fulfill their orders. Such an event is damaging financially — but the brand damage is longer lasting and significantly more challenging to overcome.
Considering “Design for Service” at the product concept and design stages is essential to maximizing uptime in the field and minimizing the total cost of ownership. In addition, as individual products reach end-of-life, the ability to recycle and reuse all or some parts can generate margin via parts harvesting, while reducing waste-to-landfill, thus making products more environmentally friendly.
Aftermarket Services should be customized to fit your needs — ideally at the “Design for Service” stage, but can be engaged at any point in the process. Considering your AMS strategy early in the process allows you to address challenges proactively and design an overall solution with the agility to adapt as needs evolve or the market changes.
The real key to success with industrial automation manufacturing? Don’t go it alone.
This global surge in e-commerce is just the beginning. Consumers’ digital shopping behavior will continue through 2021 and beyond. Ensure you capitalize on this opportunity and don’t miss out. Engage with a strong strategic partner right from the start to help you bring your innovative industrial automation products to the world. If you would like to learn more about our approach to any or all of the areas above, or have a specific need for our services, please contact our Industrial Sector team. Contact Us