Custom Built Machine – Set To Sail
Can we make it all fit? That was the big question of the moment when that “little” shipping container arrived. The truck driver was worried, yet trusting the CAD models, we fired up the forklift and set about carefully jamming it all in. This custom built machine is setting off on its journey over land, then sea, to finally reach its new home. We’ll see it again in a few weeks when we go to install it.
Because the work we do often intermingles confidentiality, we won’t talk about what it does, but these photos do show pieces of the machine loading for travel. It is a big project over many months to bring new automation in a factory that normally does things by hand.
Setting the Future with a Custom Built Machine
I’m often asked about designing for automation: “Doesn’t that take away people’s jobs?” It’s a good question, and in the short view I think there is a concern, but setting your vision a little longer, changes the story. Let’s take this custom built machine as an example.
All industries are a little different. Some actively seek and accept technology — like the bicycle industry. Other industries are firm in their ways and quite resistant to change. This industry is in the middle. While the end user side offers new product frequently, the processing side still does things the way it has for 50 years. It’s an interesting mix.
The owner of this company plans to change that, while gaining a competitive advantage.
This custom built machine is a big step to changing the processing side. It will make a big difference in reducing mistakes, minimizing scrap and increasing productivity. All good things in an industry pressured with cost reduction.
Does It Take Jobs Away?
In the very limited view of the task it does, this machine allows one person to accomplish the work of several. So, in from that perspective, it does displace jobs.
Wideninging our view just a little, the machine reduces mistakes — so it makes less trash for our environment. It also frees up manpower to accomplish some of the other tasks required in the industry. By reducing scrap, it allows the company to increase productivity.
With a more efficient back end, the company can expand to take on more work and employ even more people. It’s not immediate, but greater efficiency almost always leads to more and better jobs. The machine does the drudgery work allowing employees to do the more pleasant things.
We’ll See It Again Soon
The CAD models are right. All the pieces fit — though just fit — into the shipping container. Will all the dunnage in place, the machine is now on the way, over land and sea, to it’s new destination. We’ll be traveling there soon as well to meet the container again, unload it, and put the machine all back together.
The final engineering development will be on-site as we optimize function in the new environment. We’ll adjust to the requests of the customer, then train the workers on using the new equipment. In the process, we’ll also make final adjustments and settle calibration. Such is the life in engineering and building a new custom built machine.