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Ask your manufacturing partner these 4 questions about automation

by JC Kocjancic, on Dec 20, 2022 4:23:42 PM

The logic is simple: Automation improves efficiency; efficiency drives down costs; and reduced costs benefit your bottom line. So, what is your manufacturing partner doing to automate? 

If you are not sure, don’t hesitate to ask a few questions. 

Our CEO Tim Merrifield took a few minutes to share details about The Cubbison Company’s focus on automation.  

QUESTION #1: How much focus are you putting on automation? 

Tim: Automation is central to our business strategy. We know that automation is necessary if we want to deliver top quality and service to our clients. There are two reasons for this. 

The quantity of manufacturing jobs continues to increase, but the number of candidates is not keeping pace. This means that companies need to do more with less. If we cannot double the headcount, then we need to double the speed and efficiency.  

In some ways, the labor gap has forced companies to prioritize automation. And there is a benefit: The more we automate, the more efficient we become. So, while the labor gap is a challenge, we have been able to improve our efficiency, control costs, and deliver affordable, quality products to our clients on a timely basis.  

QUESTION #2: What tangible steps are you taking to automate? 

Tim: We have been taking a beginning-to-end approach to automation. You could say that we have left no stone unturned.  

We have hired continuous improvement experts so we can regularly evaluate and adapt every aspect of what’s going on within our facility, and honestly, what is going on outside of our facility, like sourcing, offshoring, and transportation. Meet Shawn Larson, our most recent continuous improvement hire. 

We have streamlined processes. For example, with our new CPQ software platform, quoting and ordering now requires one or two steps, instead of five or six.  

We have invested in new, high-speed, high-caliber equipment that has more than doubled the speed of digital printing. This is one of the gains I referenced: we are not adding people or increasing our overhead costs; instead, we are increasing speed, delivering better quality, and doing an even better job of meeting our clients’ needs. Read our blog about high-speed digital printing. 

For example, it used to require six stations to create a selective adhesive; now we do it in two steps, first with digital printing, and then laminating and cutting. And, I might add that we do it at previously unimaginable speeds. 

When we do converting jobs for our clients, we have the technology to provide inline monitoring, inspection, and correction. By “inline,” I meant that we use cameras and sensors during the converting process. With the ability to continuously monitor and adjust, we eliminate waste, the need for reruns, and production delays. Read our blog about our converting technology. 

By analyzing the vast amount of available real-time data, we have automated reporting and incorporated predictive maintenance. We have also reduced the time it takes us to process orders, build product schedules, and manage delivery timelines. This is a great example of how Manufacturing 4.0 is changing the industry and how we at The Cubbison Company do business. 


QUESTION #3: What benefits of automation will you pass on to me? 

Tim: When it comes to our automation efforts, our clients are the winners.  

We already talked about the fact that automation gives us increased opportunities to streamline processes, and that’s a boost for efficiency. The trickle down of efficiency is cost control, faster production, and more on-time deliveries 

We owe it to our clients to get it right the first time. With inline monitoring and inspection, our clients can count on quality and precision in less time.  

Downtime is a detriment to us and to our clients. We have been able to reduce downtime by predicting and implementing a tight maintenance schedule. Also, because our products require fewer stations and processes, there is less likelihood that production will be delayed at any stage.  

Perhaps most important to our clients is that automation helps us reduce waste and control costs. And our clients benefit from both.   

QUESTION #4: How will you continue to automate? 

Tim: We are excited about the future of automation. With artificial intelligence (AI) advancing with unprecedented speed, we expect to continue to reap the benefits at an even faster pace. AI and the resulting dataset will help us make important decisions more quickly and with more precision and confidence. Honestly, the full reach of AI in manufacturing remains to be seen, but we know the best is yet to come.  

Topics:new technologiesleadtime and deliveryprocessdigital printing