Automated system building for OEMs

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The imperative to reduce manufacturing costs and increase productivity is a reality for businesses of all sizes. The need to maximise ROI through optimised efficiency is leading to new approaches in automated system building, says Andrew Weaver of ERIKS Automation.

Today’s end-users are demanding ever-greater efficiency and capability in automation systems. To address this demand, machine builders have looked for ways to further enhance automation systems and provide efficient approaches for an expanding customer base.

OEMs who are in the business of building automated systems can gain significant advantages from enlisting the services of a partner with automation expertise. While some OEMs may have their own in-house expertise, others can benefit from consulting a dedicated team of design and application engineers with the knowledge and know-how to meet specific product or project requirements.

One reason for this is that in-house engineering teams may not have the specialised knowledge and experience to understand fully the true potential of current equipment or techniques, and the consequences of this can be costly if projects or budgets overrun or, worst of all, if the finished system does not meet goals set for efficiency and/or capability. Typically, opportunities to maximise component performance, reliability and functionality are likely to be missed through a lack of awareness of the latest automation techniques. In contrast, working with a specialised supplier that possesses an in-depth application knowledge and manufacturing experience, will bring to the project valuable advice on technological innovations that will enhance system flexibility and reliability.

For example, ERIKS Automation recently came to the assistance of a manufacturer of automated dairy equipment that was given the task of designing an automatic milking system for dairy cows. To ensure that the process could be carried out safely and efficiently, there were many aspects to consider; for example, provision had to be made for the udders and teats to be thoroughly washed before milking. To meet this need, gates were automated to keep the cow in place, while a camera scanned the udders and teats to ensure that the automatic cleaning system operated in the correct area. ERIKS provided the construction and supply of every electro-mechanical rotating/linear actuator on the milking system, which included camera/laser actuators, water jet cleaning actuators, teat coupler actuators, gate actuators and valve actuators. This method of milking is substantially increasing milk yield for the dairies that are using the system. By pooling customer knowledge and ERIKS know-how, a series of issues were addressed, resulting in a multi-stage automation system that capitalised on the latest technology to create the most efficient and effective system possible.

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