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15 June, 2024

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Invest now to save in the long term

01 June, 2023

Investing in appropriate new technologies can assist manufacturers in cutting their costs in the long run, and helping them to stay ahead of their rivals. Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for automation, argues that those that adopt technologies early will be in a better position to compete in the future and to take advantage of new opportunities.

Time is money. Many of us have grown up hearing this phrase, which is applicable in many different scenarios – including in the world of industrial automation. In our sector, however, time is often more expensive than “money” or – for the purposes of this discussion – investment in digital technologies. Many companies hesitate to invest in new technologies because of the perceived up-front cost, but the truth is that waiting and incurring costs can be more expensive in the long run. It is important for companies to make investments now to reap long-term cost savings.

The cost of waiting is a concept that is applied widely in business, but it is particularly relevant in the world of industrial automation. Waiting to invest in new technologies can lead to increased downtime, lower productivity and, ultimately, higher costs. For example, if a company continues to rely on outdated equipment, it may experience more breakdowns and need to perform more maintenance. This can lead to more downtime and lost productivity, resulting in higher costs.

In addition, waiting to invest in digital technologies can lead to opportunities being missed. Companies that fail to adopt new technologies risk falling behind their competitors and losing market share. In today’s rapidly-changing business landscape, companies must be agile and adaptable if they are to succeed.

Look, for example, at how companies have reacted during the recent global pressures. The ongoing struggles with Brexit and the Covid pandemic have meant that organisations that were a few steps ahead in their automation journeys were able to maintain an advantage throughout the troubled times. Investing in industrial digital technologies can provide numerous benefits for companies. By implementing new technologies such as IoT, machine learning and automation software, companies can improve efficiency, raise their productivity and cut costs.

Many products available from Gambica members can be thought of as IoT devices, which can be used to monitor equipment in real time, allowing users to identify and address issues before they result in downtime or maintenance problems. Machine-learning algorithms can help to optimise production processes, reducing waste and increasing yield. Automation software can also be used to automate routine tasks, freeing up employees to focus on higher-level activities which require more human intervention.

By investing in these technologies, companies can cut costs and waste, while also improving efficiency and productivity. In addition, those that adopt these technologies early will be better positioned to compete in the future and to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. 

While the upfront cost of investing in industrial digital technologies may seem high, the long-term cost savings can be significant. A company that invests in automation software to streamline routine tasks can cut labour costs associated with those tasks. Similarly, a company that implements IoT devices to monitor equipment in real-time can reduce maintenance costs associated with unexpected breakdowns. These will, in turn, result in improved profitability. The rewards will be reaped not only by the employees and staff, but by customers too. 

Investing in industrial digital technologies can also help companies in improve sustainability, such as reducing their carbon footprints. By optimising production processes and cutting waste, manufacturers can reduce their environmental impacts and improve their bottom lines. Those that adopt sustainable practices are often viewed more favourably by customers and stakeholders, which can improve their reputation and increase brand loyalty.

The summary here is simple, and begins with the phrase I quoted at the start of this article: time is more expensive than investing in industrial digital technologies. Its proving to be a fact rather than an assumption.

Variable-speed drives (VSDs) and soft-starters are critical components in industrial automation. They are used to regulate the speed of the electric motors used in almost every industrial application, from conveyor belts and pumps to fans and compressors. By using VSDs and soft-starters, companies can achieve significant energy savings, reduce wear-and-tear on equipment, and extend the lives of their assets.

These are just a couple of examples of products which can help to achieve this. There are many more, all application-specific. It is best to talk to a trade association, a local catapult, or an industry expert, who will most certainly be able to help you to gain the knowledge required to implement these changes.

 

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK. You can get in touch with Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or nikesh.mistry@gambica.org.uk, or via the Gambica Web site: www.gambica.org.uk




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