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Tag Archives | Retrofits

Retrofits are automation projects that refer to the addition of new technology or features added to older automation systems.

How to Get Cash for a Retrofit Project

If you know how to do it, leasing can fund your much-needed upgrades and eliminate timing challenges.

In my last blog, The Wisdom of Perpetual Upgrades, I wrote about how the availability of capital often drives the timing of retrofit projects. In the interest of walking my talk, I would like to present one possible solution to the problem of capital availability driving project timing: leasing. To cover this topic appropriately, I spoke with Bill Summers, director and vice president of Vision Financial Group. He shared his insights to the world of leasing and why it may be a good solution for manufacturers when considering a retrofit project.

As Bill puts it, “The equipment leasing and finance industry happens to be built around making the necessary capital quickly available for automation projects and other capital intensive projects that require funding. These projects usually either don’t have enough (or any) money earmarked within the company’s budget or the budgeting office simply won’t or can’t progress with the same sense of urgency that the automation engineering team recognizes a need for.” Continue Reading →

How System Integrators Can Help Fill the Skills Gap

By partnering with a system integrator, you can tackle some of your biggest challenges—without hiring additional skilled staff.

If you are a U.S. manufacturer, you already know this fact: skilled people are hard to find. From production line workers, to skilled trade people, technicians, and engineers, finding the right skillsets to support your production is a significant challenge.

At the same time, you face intense competitive pressures to increase productivity, improve quality, introduce new products to the market, and reduce cost.

These combined forces—lack of resources and competitive pressures—have led many manufacturers to improve and expand their automation. Automation makes sense on many levels. To begin with, using properly selected and applied automation, manufacturers need fewer people on the plant floor and can eliminate dangerous and repetitive tasks. Plus, automation has a successful track record in making companies more competitive. Continue Reading →

The Wisdom of Perpetual Upgrades

When is the right time to retrofit? Before you paint yourself into a corner.

Have you ever wondered how timing can impact the effectiveness of a project? If you have not, it’s important that you hear this story.

I was working with a client to help spec out a retrofit to their entire line that turned into a million dollar scope of work. Through the process it became clear that we were being sole sourced on the project; as long as we presented a reasonable budget, the project was ours. Needless to say, I was quite excited, right up until the point when they told me they could not afford any downtime.

This was discouraging news considering the size and scope on the project. A project that was straightforward from a technology and application standpoint had suddenly become a monumental task. A system I would normally estimate at three weeks for the startup turned into a six-week, shot in the dark with 24/7 hour coverage just in case anything went sideways. We got it done, but the time, energy, dollars and risk it took to make it happen were greatly amplified due to the no downtime conditions. As an example, the startup had to be rescheduled three times, with less than a week’s notice, due to the fact that they could not derive enough production to stockpile product to carry them through the startup. Continue Reading →