Navigating Social Distancing with Smart Manufacturing
One company’s approach of using decades of process and manufacturing know-how to create long-term solutions in an uncertain climate.
It’s no secret that the most popular phrase of 2020 has been social distancing. From a component manufacturing perspective, that concept seems daunting, and costly. There are still workers on the front lines: assemblers, operators, and others that have to work in close proximity to one another.
Although the effects of social distancing may be limited in duration, it has also spurred conversations about how to overcome these obstacles in the future.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, most of the machines that manufacturers operate on a daily basis require at least a basic level of human interaction to ensure the apparatus stays running. Even if it’s automated, the machine still requires a basic level of expertise to maintain accuracy. This could be metaphorically compared to how humans live instinctually, but often times require the expertise of a doctor to maintain optimal health.
Supfina, a machine tool manufacturer and solutions firm, has taken the approach to mitigate that level of interaction with a number of customized strategies. With the need for IoT connectivity more important than ever, Supfina began instituting different technologies to streamline processes. Between machine monitoring, instituting a live chat function on their website, the use of AR/VR for remote technical support, and fully autonomous robotics, their forward-thinking solutions have assisted companies of every size.
Supfina recently partnered with The Timken Company, a worldwide manufacturer of bearings and other components, as a beta site to house an automated version of Supfina’s Spiro F5, a fine grinding machine with advanced robotic capabilities.
A representative from Timken spoke highly of the relationship with Supfina, referring to their “excellent partnership through development, production release, and support. [Supfina] was quick to respond to any process, mechanical, or system issues that arose, many times sending an engineer immediately to our facility.”
As Supfina’s customer base transverses a multitude of sectors, their focus has been on making their highly customizable systems as flexible as possible, creating value for any mix or volume application
“We understand that different manufacturers have different needs,” says Andy Corsini, President/CEO of Supfina Machine Company. “Supfina has developed this digitization and ability to make systems smarter with several companies across a plethora of industries, such as aerospace, medical, and automotive, all which require unique and flexible solutions. This provides our partners a distinct competitive advantage.”
Supfina also benefitted from proactivity on the digitization side. Supfina Quick Support – or SQS for short – has been one of the company’s highest priorities over the past few years, providing an authentic virtual experience for their customers. With the facilitation of providing digital runoffs of their solutions, Supfina supplies their customers with an immersive experience and ability to learn about their new system right from their own computer, tablet, or cell phone. Additionally, that includes the benefit of saving thousands of dollars in previously incurred travel expenses.
Supfina has also digitized their entire sales process. This includes giving customers a virtual tour of their facilities, initiating virtual status updates during the build, running live demonstrations of test work in full HD over teleconferencing calls, providing comprehensive remote support, and supplying electronic manuals of their machines.
When asked what’s next for manufacturing, Corsini paints an intuitive picture. “When we start to look towards the future, you’ll see more seamless integration, to the point where we’ve nearly eliminated unplanned downtime and changeover time, while increasing productivity and profitability.”