Today, due to fierce competition and demanding consumers, plants need to expand, upgrade, and make improvements on tight schedules.  Engineering of custom equipment often does not fit into this timeline.  Due to the design of proprietary production equipment, industrial clients have unique requirements. 

Customers' success often relies on adhesive assembly, especially hot melt adhesives, that supports fast, automated assembly systems, as well as rapid engineering and product cycle times. Using adhesive assembly lets products be lightweight, sustainable, and designed with diverse materials of construction. For example, disposable hygiene products (e.g., diapers) can have 16 or more adhesive applications. A new feature may need to roll out across several different product sizes times multiple tiers of the product. A competitive market causes products to change every year or faster.  Even seasonal products are offered.

CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote), design automation, and flexible manufacturing enable equipment suppliers to customize and produce industrial products in a timely and effective manner. Voice of the Customer (VOC) assessments must be completed by suppliers upfront for these systems to function efficiently. Taking these needs into account produces a well-defined set of many possible configurations. Smart choices can be made to manage thousands of variations. It is crucial to maintain control over the complexity of the configuration system by applying the Pareto principle, which allows popular variants to be predicted. An integrated system allows for customization ranging from manual all the way to fully automated. This aligns investment and ROI with sales expectations.

Integrated systems that meet these complex demands require an agile approach to update the configuration set and process efficiency based on actual experience. Owning automation tools is the best way to support rapid updates, rather than outsourcing. Customers' expectations change over time, and the configuration system and the product itself need to be continuously monitored and improved.

An organizational system should consider interdependencies between all its components. Creating such an integration is challenging. For example, support personnel should know how to explain to customers when a small change to the equipment can enable a configurable design rather than a fully customized one. Design automation should not only support part prints, but also offer visualization tools for integrating into the customer's plant, personalizing manuals, and generating manufacturing and purchasing documents. Design tools must seamlessly integrate with CAM tools that automate the programming of machining centers. As an example of the value, a team of engineers from a customer visited a supplier and left not only with an approved 3D design, but also having seen the equipment being manufactured the same day.

A journey towards integrated systems has yielded unexpected benefits. Rapid visualization, for example, can help a customer complete their production upgrade design and have greater confidence in their success. Design automation puts the customer in control by providing them with an immediate 3D model of their part instead of waiting for it to be produced. 

Significantly, this improves the satisfaction of the customer's engineering team. There are also internal benefits. Product quality and first-pass yield increase as the product moves through a standardized, flexible production process. Customer support is also involved in the VOC and configuration layout design so they can better understand their needs and how the new product can meet them. They can hit the ground running when the capability is offered to the customer. These moving parts may appear complex, but they drive an overall improvement in organizational agility and learning. The result is a stronger, more robust organization with capabilities that help our customers succeed!