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Low Cost Automation (LCA) in special machine construction

Can low cost automation increase productivity? Yes, says the special machine manufacturer VWH GmbH. But what does low cost automation actually mean?

The term low cost automation is generally understood to mean a quickly implementable automation of work processes with simple and inexpensive tools. For this purpose, existing resources and utensils are often used, which are improved with simple and inexpensive technical processes and tools. Up to a certain degree of automation, this form of automation is advantageous because low-cost automation can be implemented quickly and compared to a fully automated system the investment is relatively low.

However, the limits of this automation can be reached very quickly. Higher quantities, savings in resources or a significant reduction in cycle time are only possible to a limited extent with this type of automation. Traceability of the individual manufacturing, assembly and testing processes are also difficult to implement.

How can low cost automation be implemented in special machine engineering?

"We initially concentrate on the core production processes and try to implement them simply, cost-effectively and quickly. Quality must not suffer as a result," says Andreas Klatt, technical director at VWH GmbH.

VWH GmbH relies on a modular design. From the individual article intake to the complete cell, the appropriate concept is worked out for each customer. Once this has been created, the degree of automation can be determined together with the customer. This Nevertheless, the degree of automation can be adapted at any time.

Low cost automation in this case means that the customer only receives the degree of automation that he currently needs and not in one or two years. He also has the option of adjusting the level of automation at any time.

For example, the systems are designed in such a way that they grow with the article call-offs. After the SOP date, the quantities of article calls are often limited and increase over time. In such a case, it can be advantageous to set up the machine or system in a way that only the core processes are automated first and later the secondary processes. A secondary process, for example, is the packaging of the articles. During the production start-up time, one person first takes over the packaging, which is later replaced by a fully automatic packaging machine. Furthermore, the projects can be realized with lean throughput times, so that the time-to-market is kept very short.

VWH GmbH not only builds special machines, but also supports its customers in concept development, project management and process optimization. In this way, the company comprehensively supports its customers in finding the optimum degree of automation in special machine construction.