August 11, 2014
Volume I, Issue 2

No Risk Automation
Asking the Right Questions

Knowing the "tricks of the trade" has inspired the creation of No Risk Automation.  Asking the right questions from the beginning drives a much more precise selection of appropriate automation solutions.  This knowledge and experience-based approach cannot be duplicated or Google searched.  It requires having walked in the shoes of the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) vendors and the AGV automation purchaser.  Too often automation solutions advocated by vendors are designed to make a square peg fit into a round hole.  It is not appropriate, ethical, and often very costly.

Application Study and Analysis

The dynamically changing IT industry brings forth new objectives and perspectives for automation. As more focus is placed on automation solutions for performance and productivity improvements, the vast benefits of automation can often fail. Some types of mistakes in automation may include selecting the wrong automated tool, incorrectly using the tool, or the wrong environment for evaluating the solution. It is worth paying special attention to the automation framework and proper work scope between the test automation and shop floor or distribution center reality.

Specification Development 

Industrial journalist, Thomas R. Cutler wrote in the August issue of Efficient Manufacturing magazine, "Automation vendors write proposals based upon what a prospective customer requests. If the automation needs are not properly vetted, and a rigorous specification document developed, these same vendors will provide the proposal they deem best (often targeted to their sales goals and profit margins).  After a clear decision  has been made to pursue an automation project, the risk is eliminated by clearly directing vendors to propose the specified solution.  All the unneeded bells and whistles, add-on services, and superfluous functionalities are eliminated."

Vendor Selection

Vendor agnostic objectivity helps organizations retain clear and consistent strategies across multiple platforms. The ability to provide ethical and best practice decision-making strategies, maximizes user adoption and engagement.  Third party "fresh eyes" create a lean kaizen event with easy access to options and opportunities.  These processes are combined with a well-rounded view of why, how, and when to use technology automation solutions for the current and future state of the operation.    

Project Manage

A sound business strategy is essential to success.  Without faulting internal staff, even the most efficient operations management is overwhelmed by the day-to-day realities of the shop floor and distribution center.  Without disciplined execution and careful attention to oversight, even the best business strategy can be useless.  Third party project management allows the operational flow to continue while implementing and executing automation solutions.  Complex initiatives require that projects are managed efficiently, cost-effectively, and ahead of schedule.

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