What To Do When Your New Equipment Arrives
In last month’s blog, I highlighted the importance of seeking supplier support when bringing new automated equipment online. Indeed, successful automation doesn’t happen by accident.
An ideal scenario sees your automated machines whirring away as your technicians work with software to ensure that all processes flow as they should. Logistics and shipping are optimized at every level. Many of today’s commercial glass manufacturers may not be quite at this level of sophistication, but we’re getting closer every day. You may have invested in new automated equipment over the winter and are awaiting installation from the OEM in the coming months—just in time for summer.
In my work with customers who’ve implemented today’s top technology for commercial glass fabrication, I’ve seen some things they all have in common. Drawn from that experience, here’s a checklist with some tips on how you can get the most from your new equipment:
Don’t assume “business as usual” – New equipment will likely require adjustments to your typical processes. Floor staff will require some training on how to best work with the new machinery. If you’re adding capacity, raw materials ordering and fulfillment will need adjusting, too. Work with your vendors to ensure you have what you need to maximize your new capabilities.
More than anything, keep an open mind. Advanced new equipment may open doors to new opportunities for glass manufacturers—be open to where those doors might lead once you’re up and running.
Don’t neglect your older equipment – Not many commercial glass producers are completely overhauling all equipment at once. While it can be easy to become preoccupied with ensuring new equipment is up and running as you intended, priority must still be placed on numerous older and reliable machines and equipment that help you make quality commercial glass. Be sure that you don’t let maintenance lapses happen.
Optimize production flow – Vertical high-speed lines deliver great quality and consistency by efficiently assembling units in a straight line, allowing production managers great visibility into the product. Because supervisors can see straight down the line, they’ll know exactly what is happening with in-production units at all times, allowing them to spot any deficiencies easily.
The installation of new equipment provides a great opportunity for you to rethink plant flows and processes—indeed, a straight-line approach can and should be applied across your plant, where possible. Doing so will help to minimize the number of touchpoints and the distance your units need to travel from point to point. You’ll also have greater visibility into the product, wherever it is in production.
Prepare your sales teams – The benefits of new equipment extend beyond just the shop floor; high-tech machinery can sometimes help you make a higher-performing product. That means your sales teams must have the knowledge to convey those benefits to your customers. An example: A new high-speed line has enabled you to switch from a metallic spacer system to warm-edge spacer technology. Your sales teams must be armed with the right information and knowledge to communicate the benefit of your improved product to discerning customers.
New machinery brings new opportunities. Make the most of them by properly preparing yourself for installation and ongoing operation.
Joe Erb is a national account manager for Quanex