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Tag: Automation

How to Choose an Automation System Supplier? (5)

When choosing an automation system provider, it is worth checking their capabilities in integrating drive technology, control, and communication devices from different manufacturers.The need to use devices from a specific manufacturer may arise from corporate requirements or other standards adopted in factories. The automation system provider should be able to meet these requirements. This involves broad integration in terms of power supply, control, communication, and software. Such capabilities are confirmed by appropriate certifications.

Quality and Availability of Components Used

The highest quality of the components used determines the stability and reliability of the machine. This ensures production continuity and operational safety, minimizing the risk of unplanned downtime. Additionally, it is important to verify whether the provider has a well-equipped warehouse supported by IT tools and whether the client can verify the functioning of such a warehouse under real working conditions. The provider should demonstrate that their supply chain is well-organized and guarantees the availability of components regardless of market conditions.

Service and Remote Access

When choosing a provider, it is advantageous to select one who designs and manufactures machines with their own resources, guaranteeing fast service. However, a competent provider should foresee solutions during the preliminary design phase that minimize the likelihood of malfunctions. Additionally, the use of remote diagnostic tools to provide machine service support should be considered.

ELPLC S.A. is a certified partner of Siemens, the only one in Poland in the field of Advanced Motion drive technology. This is the highest level of certification, providing significantly greater technical capabilities concerning this manufacturer’s drive technology. As a result, solutions can be created that are optimally tailored to process needs. In terms of cooperation with robot suppliers, ELPLC S.A. boasts the SI Elite distinction, the highest status among Mitsubishi Electric integrators in Poland, and the KUKA Official System Partner status. Moreover, we can supply and integrate robots from other manufacturers and have our own prototype of a universal six-axis robot with a patented movable member made of carbon fiber (Unirobot).

To ensure the highest level of machine safety, ELPLC S.A. selects “top-shelf” components during the project phase. This allows the production of applications that are reliable and safe. Additionally, ELPLC S.A. has a large warehouse located directly next to the production hall. Supply continuity is ensured by agreements signed with suppliers.

ELPLC S.A. designs and manufactures machines independently, ensuring quick diagnostics and fault elimination. It is worth noting that ELPLC S.A., as a global provider, successfully utilizes tools for remote diagnostics and machine upgrades. It is also worth mentioning the continuously developed diagnostics based on augmented reality smart glasses by ELPLC S.A. This enables quick diagnostics and detection of machine operation irregularities. Furthermore, using such a solution, especially during COVID-19 restrictions, shortens the time for retooling, servicing, and inspections and reduces the probability of machine failures and unplanned downtime. The glasses can remotely collect process data for automation needs or indicate faults and failure points to maintenance services.

How to Choose an Automation System Supplier? (4)

One can confidently say that a good provider is a global provider.Wide-ranging competencies, experience in process automation, design and production capabilities, financial backing, as well as a structured human resource framework, an in-house machinery park, and adequate facility resources, enable the global delivery of machines.

Only a few providers have the potential for a global reach. This requires significant financial backing and human and infrastructural resources. A global provider must meet several additional requirements, such as ensuring business continuity, risk management, proper documentation flow for projects, and change management, additional validation of design capabilities, and meeting extra verification criteria for potential and quality.

Communication with the Client

Efficient communication and documentation flow in sales, project, and acceptance phases are crucial for the successful execution of investments. The sales process for capital goods typically runs on multiple levels simultaneously. Various departments, including technical (e.g., process engineers), decision-making, advisory (e.g., maintenance services), purchasing, and management, participate in the information flow process. Hence, appropriate actions must be tailored to the specific organizational and decision-making structure of each client. It is therefore beneficial to choose a provider who effectively manages sales, project implementation, and post-sales processes.

Adequate Facility Resources

The provider should have buildings and production halls that allow for comprehensive production, commissioning, and trial production. Therefore, it is important to ensure adequate hall space and transport routes (e.g., for truck access). The production hall should have access to utilities with appropriate parameters, allowing for safe operation of the line during trial commissioning.

ELPLC S.A. possesses significant technical and financial potential, enabling their machines to operate successfully in many countries beyond Europe. Their workstations, stations, and production and assembly lines are operational in Slovakia, Spain, Bulgaria, Russia, the Czech Republic, France, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, and the United States, among others. At ELPLC S.A., the sales process is coordinated and supported by the Sales Department, ensuring the highest level of communication and guaranteeing a smooth flow of technical information. This process includes demonstrating ELPLC S.A.’s competencies and resources, collecting data for conceptual work, presenting concepts, implementing changes to concepts, and submitting technical-commercial offers that meet the client’s needs, up to coordinating the flow of order documentation. All this ensures that the process of selecting a “tailor-made” solution is quick and efficient.

During the project implementation phase, ELPLC S.A. assigns a Project Manager to communicate with the client. The Project Manager has comprehensive knowledge and competencies for smooth project execution. They are the primary communication line and coordinate work across all execution branches. The Project Manager manages the production process, machine commissioning, acceptance, documentation handover, and oversees post-sales support for upgrades and adaptations to any changes in the process.

During the investment implementation phase, ELPLC S.A. develops a work schedule that is presented to the client. The Project Manager oversees its execution. Any corrections and changes are made continuously in consultation with the client to ensure the project is completed within the planned time frame.

How to Choose an Automation System Supplier? (3)

At the stage of choosing a provider, it is worth checking their financial health, which guarantees the execution of large projects. Additionally, a competent automation system provider should have its own specialized production capabilities.

Investment in an Automation System

The premise of investing in an automation system is to achieve the expected return on investment within a specified time. Therefore, financing, like the designed technical solution, should be “tailor-made.” Only a few providers with sufficient financial potential can afford flexibility in this regard. It is important to emphasize that a financially stable provider can handle large projects that are implemented over an extended period. Moreover, many projects, especially prototype ones, entail the need for the provider to incur additional costs resulting from performing a series of additional studies, tests, prototypes, 3D prints, etc. The provider should therefore have adequate financial potential, ideally domestically sourced, with the possibility of obtaining additional support at every stage of the project implementation.

Machinery Park

A well-equipped machinery park guarantees that machine components can be produced in one place, reducing the time for application execution, with quick response to changes and availability of spare parts. Additionally, it ensures the execution of even the most complex and unusual structural and transport elements under strict supervision of designers, with the possibility of modifications and necessary changes at any production phase.

Adequate Facility Resources

The provider should have buildings and production halls that allow for comprehensive production, commissioning, and trial production. Therefore, it is important to ensure adequate hall space and transport routes (e.g., for truck access). The production hall should have access to utilities with appropriate parameters, allowing for safe operation of the line during trial commissioning.

It is also worth considering the convenient location of the provider’s headquarters. Although technologies such as mixed reality and remote access are increasingly used for project implementation (e.g., for tests, changes, options, inspections, etc.), potential access to the site where the machines are made should be convenient. Thus, it is best if the design center and production halls are located in one place, near major national roads and highways as well as airports.

ELPLC S.A. is a Polish company with substantial financial backing and additional support from the financial investor Tar Heel Capital. This translates not only to financial stability but also to flexible payment terms for machines (e.g., installment payments with schedules tailored to the client’s needs).

Regarding the machinery park, it is worth noting that ELPLC S.A.’s machining center is based on CNC machines (8 units), conventional machining machines (9 units), lathes (9 units), and grinders (6 units). This allows the company to produce even the smallest elements (components and spare parts) in-house, both for production needs and spare part availability.

ELPLC S.A., headquartered in Tarnów, has two buildings with a total area of 4200 m², thus the designed machines are manufactured in Poland, in its own production halls located near the A4 highway. Additionally, ELPLC S.A.’s headquarters can be quickly reached from Kraków-Balice or Rzeszów-Jasionka airports.

How to Choose an Automation System Supplier? (2)

A good automation system provider should base their approach on individual solutions for automating production and assembly processes. This way, innovative and dedicated applications are created, which are closely tailored to specific process needs.

Research & Development Potential

Thus, pioneering and prototype concepts should be developed in separate departments focused on the development of new applications considering the latest market solutions and technological trends. Real problems occurring in factories must be taken into account, considering the specifics of production technology as well as the physical properties of components and the final product. A competent automation system provider should have the human and technical resources necessary for designing and building prototype machines. Therefore, it is crucial that the concepts for automating complex production processes can be translated not only into projects but also into innovative, special, prototype, and optimized machines that can be put into operation with guaranteed stability and reliability.

Experience in Automated Processes

Experience in automated processes is very important for the proper design of a workstation, station, or production line. Knowledge of production processes translates into the optimal selection of solutions considering specific requirements. It is also important to transfer automation competencies for specific processes from one industry to another.

Proprietary Traceability Systems and Smart Factory Software

In this area, it is worth opting for proprietary and custom-made solutions developed from scratch by a single manufacturer. As a result, you get a system strictly tailored to the needs of a specific application. Additionally, proprietary systems are continuously developed in line with the latest technological trends (e.g., ELPLC Smart Factory).

ELPLC S.A. has its own R&D Department responsible for creating concepts that are closely tailored to specific technological needs. The focus is on close cooperation with process solution providers. Simultaneously, numerous research and development works are carried out (e.g., in the field of Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0 philosophy), in collaboration with factory representatives (managers and process engineers), as well as scientific research centers and universities. All this translates into professional advice, the creation of comprehensive solutions, and their adaptation to clients’ requirements and needs.

Moreover, in cooperation with other departments of ELPLC S.A.: Construction, Supply Chain, Production, Mechatronics, Electrical Engineering, Software Engineering, Commissioning, Maintenance, Retrofitting, it is possible to create even the most complex and comprehensive solutions. Consequently, for designing concepts and project implementation, engineers (approx. 18% of the employment structure), programmers (approx. 13% of the employment structure), assembly and commissioning teams (approx. 30% of the employment structure), and the mechanical processing department (approx. 23% of the employment structure) can be engaged. All these competencies must be perfectly integrated through excellent communication, guaranteed by a dedicated Project Manager for each client.

Among the numerous competencies of ELPLC S.A., it is worth noting the extensive experience in automating precise assemblies and welding operations for a wide variety of materials, which is often found in industrial assembly processes. Thanks to such competencies, there is an opportunity for an ideal match for welding operations, even for the most complex components. The ability to design standalone or modular solutions, as well as integrated test solutions and additional operations (assembly, closing, passivation, testing, quality control, or packaging), plays a significant role. It is worth emphasizing that ELPLC S.A. was the first in Europe to use resistance welding devices with pulse control in its application.

The machines produced by ELPLC S.A. can be equipped with a dedicated traceability system that ensures monitoring of the technological process with full data analysis. Such an application is compatible with all process controllers. It is also worth noting the possibility of connecting with different types of screens, web browsers, and mobile devices. Moreover, Smart Factory systems, which are a digital reflection of the process flow according to the assumptions of Industry 4.0, play a key role.

The Smart Factory system by ELPLC S.A. (ELPLC Smart Factory) is based on four functional modules: data collection, line status monitoring, diagnostics, and analyses (historical, performance, and line failure). This system is designed from scratch by ELPLC S.A. engineers, creating a solution by engineers for engineers, made by a machine manufacturer, hence it can be strictly tailored to specific needs.

How to Choose an Automation System Supplier? (1)

Investment in the automation of production processes should be well thought out. It is necessary to consider a range of factors and criteria, both technical parameters and economic assumptions.

Technical Aspects

One must take into account a well-specified process flow, define the system’s functionalities, and calculate the expected technical parameters for each operation. Equally important are standards for drive and control technology, the mode of operation (automatic or semi-automatic), the method of supplying machines with components and handling finished or semi-finished products, cycle times, methods of retooling, integration with the environment, and media supply, etc.

Economic Aspects

In relation to the business environment, factors such as return on investment (ROI), financing methods, implementation time, and the ability to adapt the machine to changing market needs are analyzed.

Choosing an Automation System Supplier

The choice of an automation system supplier is a separate issue. Their competence should translate into a well-chosen automation concept and its conversion into a detailed multi-disciplinary project. By choosing a competent supplier, you gain the guarantee of smooth project implementation, deployment, and the introduction of any necessary changes resulting from the evolving technological process that must adapt to market needs.

ELPC S.A. is capable of completely designing, manufacturing, and implementing dedicated automatic production lines and individual stations. Our solutions are universal (easy retooling), modular (expandable), and scalable (quickly adaptable to the dynamic needs of the factory).

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