Operational excellence

5 factors for choosing the right machine and plant builder

Technological progress is bringing completely new possibilities to industrial manufacturing. But it is not only the number of processes that has increased. Sustainability demands and global crises are also changing companies’ priorities when it comes to selecting suitable machines and machine builders. What should decision-makers look for in production planning? An overview.

Precise criteria simplify the decision

Whether the existing production is to be optimized or set up for new products – companies have to consider various aspects when choosing new machines or line manufacturers. Costs are an important factor, but they should never be the decisive decision-making criterion in production planning. In recent years, digitization has changed what production managers should look for when making their choice.

Regardless of the specific deployment scenario, we have identified five factors that can help you find the best process and the right manufacturer for you.

1. The individualization

Only an individual set-up and customization of machines and systems ensures an optimal result. Compromises usually turn out to be costly for companies.  Beyond this basic requirement, however, customizability also plays an important role in the development of new sales: More and more end customers have highly specialized requirements that can only be met with appropriate equipment.

Therefore, ask yourself the following questions during production planning:

  • What exactly can the software or technology used do? Which customizing options are included and which adjustments can you demand from the provider?
  • Can your requirements be fully implemented or do you have to make compromises?
  • Is it possible to tailor the machine or system for you and what return on investment is realistic?

2. The Sustainability

Industry 4.0 has gone from being a buzzword to being part of everyday business life. Many production facilities are already smart and networked – most others will have to follow suit in the coming years in order to remain competitive.

To ensure that your investment in new machines is future-proof, check offers with regard to networking and digital maturity. Make sure that sufficient interfaces are available and that systems can be easily expanded or modernized. For example, take advantage of IoT systems to optimize the lifetime of machines.

  • Does the manufacturer offer advice on IoT systems?
  • What additional digital services can you book to minimize maintenance and repair costs?
  • Do the systems or machines use “state of the art” technologies such as artificial intelligence or machine learning to improve efficiency and longevity?

3. The Service

When machines malfunction and production comes to a standstill, it’s a nightmare scenario for every production manager and a loss for the entire company. Regular maintenance and servicing minimize the risk of downtime and thus financial and reputational losses.

To keep maintenance costs as low as possible and to benefit optimally from further developments in mechanical engineering, companies should make the service of mechanical engineering suppliers a priority.

  • How is the supplier positioned for the worst case production downtime? What support does he offer in day-to-day production?
  • What contact channels and what response times are guaranteed in support?
  • Which (digital) services are standard or can be optionally agreed to keep production up to date?

4. The resource efficiency

The requirements, regulations and targets for protecting our climate are becoming increasingly diverse and also more drastic. It is therefore imperative for companies to ensure sustainability and, in particular, resource efficiency in their production.

The requirements that must be met and the type of resource efficiency that makes sense in one’s own interest differ, sometimes considerably, depending on the industry and the application. However, the following always applies: The economical use of resources not only makes sense from a legal and ecological point of view, but also pays off economically.

  • What Co² emissions can be expected?
  • How resource-conserving is the use of materials – compared to alternative suppliers and processes?
  • What electricity consumption do you have to reckon with when choosing for the production setting?

5. Employee Training

The greatest potential of any company is its employees. They are also the decisive factor in whether or not a new technology or system will bring the planned economic benefit.

For companies, sufficient training and education should be an absolute must so that employees are not frustrated by the user guidance of new machines and systems, but rather the investment becomes a success for the company and the team.

  • How does an introduction with the manufacturer work?
  • What training does the supplier offer?
  • Can individual training sessions be arranged, even in-house?

Conclusion: Achieve clarity by asking the right questions

The pace of innovation in mechanical and process engineering is strong. New suppliers are entering the market, traditional manufacturers are disappearing. For companies, this does not make the evaluation of potential suppliers any easier. Therefore, it is helpful to be guided by clear criteria and to prioritize them.

The five factors listed are not intended to be a complete list, but rather a starting point. We would like to encourage you to become aware of your own criteria, take up our impulses and go on the search for manufacturers with even better questions in the future.