It’s easy to continue with business as usual when business is going well. But when you have to pivot, expand, or redeploy, what you’ve always done in the past may not be the best choice for your future.
Selecting the right conveyance technology partner early in your design phase is critical to ensuring future success with your automation system – no matter what project comes down the pipeline. For some, it may seem uncomfortable to stray from the familiar path and implement new or different technologies, but sometimes getting uncomfortable can be the key to success.
Look for Flexibility in Your Conveyance Technology… and Conveyance Partner
When designing and building an automation system, you probably spend countless hours researching and mapping out the technologies that will go into it (and that’s a good thing), but equally important is the vendor or partner from whom you will be getting the technology. The capability, and in the case of conveyance, flexibility of both the technology itself as well as your conveyance partner will be key in the success of your overall automation project. The experience your technology partner brings, their lead time, and their support services will all impact your project. When choosing a conveyance technology, a Smart Conveyance platform can offer a highly flexible solution for your business. Making the switch to SuperTrak CONVEYANCE™ from traditional conveyance or an alternative smart conveyance provider might be easier than you think!
A Bit About Smart Conveyance
A Smart Conveyance platform provides both single-up and multi-up station options through its asynchronous capabilities. Sometimes automation designers and machine builders shy away from asynchronous systems because they can be complex to design, and implementation can be challenging and involve a high degree of skill to meet tight timelines. There is just too much risk, so it is easier to stick with what’s comfortable.
But being in this mindset might mean that you aren’t getting the most out of your automation, which can be detrimental to the overall ROI of your system.
With Smart Conveyance, accurate motion simulations early in the design phase remove engineering complexities and allow system designers to fully optimize design and performance. In the case of the SuperTrak GEN3™ conveyance platform, motion is natively managed through independent shuttle control, eliminating the risks associated with programming. Integration hours are further reduced by the intuitive PLC interface and simple function blocks. This type of flexibility in a conveyance platform can lead to higher performance in a smaller footprint – thus increasing your manufacturing efficiency. In addition to the programming efficiency, stopper cylinders, locate tooling, and other add-on equipment may not be required because of how precise movement is with Smart Conveyance.
Other flexibility indicators to look for in a conveyance technology are scalability opportunities, the ability to accommodate floor space challenges such as pillars or tight corners, and whether or not the platform can integrate with your existing system. Read this case study on how SuperTrak GEN3™ helped reduce factory footprint by integrating with an existing traditional conveyance system.
Less Automation Engineering Means Less Risk
Conveyance technology designed with machine builders in mind will offer faster integration with less complexity by leveraging integrated functionality. Integrated functionality provides features that are configured and not programed. With SuperTrak GEN3™, this is made possible through our TrakMaster™ software. By combining simulation, configuration, and diagnostic tools, Smart Conveyance provides a faster path to production with less risk.
With Smart Conveyance, the simulation, simplified tooling, and integrated functionality alone can save approximately 40% of the time it traditionally takes to get a product to production. Looking at the overall cost of ownership for a conveyance platform, this is a significant amount of time for machine builders to start earning their money back and a significant advantage for manufacturers who are trying to get to market quickly. Although Smart Conveyance may not be what you have worked with in the past, it often provides the best solution for you, your organization, and your customer.
Making the Switch
We’re the first to admit that Smart Conveyance isn’t for everyone. We refer to our Go-No-Go Guide to help customers identify if the application efficiencies offered by a Smart Conveyance technology will result in the ROI they need from their automation.
Once you’ve decided that Smart Conveyance is the right type of conveyance technology for your system, the next step would be selecting the actual platform. Machine builders will often choose technologies they’re familiar with, or technologies their customer has spec’d it in. While this might seem like the logical choice, it might not be the best choice, and Smart Conveyance provides flexibility to overcome some of these concerns.
The SuperTrak GEN3™ platform is designed with PLC-agnostic technology that offers a built-in starter code for plug-and-play functionality for most PLCs. These flexible controls mean that machine builders aren’t pigeonholed into using a specific conveyance system just to fit with the PLC they currently have. Unlike some Smart Conveyance options, the SuperTrak GEN3™ platform is PLC agnostic. This means it’s easier for machine builders to standardize on this technology and still use ProfiNet, EtherCAT, or EtherNet/IP PLC, as dictated by the customer.
It’s important for machine builders to have choices, because the most familiar path may not be the most advantageous in terms of performance and cost. For us, it’s important to provide machine builders with the flexibility to choose what’s best for themselves when designing the automation and for the performance and ROI that their end customers expect.
Selecting the Right Technology Partner
While the number of Smart Conveyance providers on the market today isn’t too overwhelming, selecting the right technology partner can still mean the difference between a project that launches on time and performs as expected, and one that has costly delays and underperforms. We’ve put together a checklist of some key requirements that should be considered when selecting a technology partner.
When it comes to the foundation of your automation system, there are numerous benefits to selecting a conveyance partner whose primary focus is on …conveyance. This seems like the obvious choice to us, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. We’ve seen many conveyance vendors who treat the technology as an afterthought because they have many other products in their portfolios. They don’t focus on the resources required to achieve full performance of the automation system, and, as a result, the customer experience suffers, most notably through delayed technical support. The system ends up with throughput challenges, it doesn’t meet the expectations of the customer, and isn’t supported by the vendor.
At SuperTrak CONVEYANCE™, we have lived and breathed Smart Conveyance every day for over 30 years. Our team is composed of machine builders who understand the challenges associated with automation design and implementation. It’s because of this experience that we can offer services that support your conveyance all the way from concept to design to implementation.
We believe that conveyance is a fundamental component of a system’s design. We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with machine builders and manufacturers with one main goal in mind – to help build better, higher-performing automation at the right cost.