Automation… Helping make New Zealand manufacturing great again

In the current uncertain times we live in it’s easy to feel like the possum in the headlights.

“But as they say, never waste a good crisis,” says Paul Claridge, business development director of Design Energy. “Now is the right time to be introducing or expanding the level of automation. It’s a powerful lever that enables manufacturing companies to become more productive and internationally competitive, and to improve NZ’s lack of manufacturing productivity growth.”

Claridge says there are many factors impacting New Zealand manufacturing. These include:

• Strong demand – at levels not seen for 20 years

• Insufficient resources to get the work done which has now become endemic – Millennials and GenZ that won’t do dull, dirty, dangerous, or repetitive work. Immigration policies and Covid-19 compound this.

• Broken supply chains that won’t be back to normal for years

• Intense international competition

• The significant constraints of Covid on business and personal lives

“The good news about automation and using robotics is the relative cost has come down significantly. It’s now possible and cost effective for SMEs to automate many of their manufacturing processes (packing, stacking, assembling, welding, cutting, polishing and deburring) and become internationally competitive,” says Claridge.

Deciding that you want to introduce more automation into your operation can be a bit daunting and can feel a bit like “eating an elephant. As we all know when you eat an elephant it’s best done piece by piece”.

“Based on our experience working with a wide range of manufacturing companies we suggest the best place to start is with an overall plan for where you think automation can make the difference you are looking for.”

Typically, he says, companies are looking for improvements in productivity, reduced reliance on an increasingly unavailable labour force, improved health and safety outcomes, a reduction in costs and increasing competitiveness locally and internationally.

The next step is to do the numbers to test the plan against the desired outcomes. As part of this it’s critically important to look at the design of your products with regard to their suitability for automation.

Most products are not designed with automation in mind. It’s often surprising how small subtle changes in product design can make a large difference to being able to automate their manufacture explains Claridge.

“Now it’s time to take the first bite of the elephant by choosing the first project and doing it well. This way those involved will develop the confidence and skills to take the next bite and along the way you will contribute to making NZ manufacturing great again.

“If you want a hand from a group of very experienced automation engineers with 150 years of automation experience on board, contact us.”

For more information email or call 0508 ROBOTS (762 687).