Do you know what preliminary actions to take to set your adhesive component automation project up for success? Do you know what your film adhesive automation vendor needs to assess the project’s requirements? Having been a part of thousands of successful film adhesive automation projects and observed a few that were not so successful let me offer up the following steps you can and should take before even engaging with your automation partner.
- Establish clearly what you are trying to accomplish and what would be an acceptable outcome – also known as acceptance criteria. This should also include what method of inspection will be utilized and at what frequency. An adhesive die-cut automation project’s goals work like a lens of a camera. If you set the focus correctly, you will be able to take a clear picture. If it is out of focus, your picture will be blurry. This blurriness ultimately leads to frustration for both the customer and automation vendor.
- Identify “must have” and “like to have” items. This prioritization process helps all stakeholders reach a common understanding of the importance of each deliverable element. Going through the rationale and classifying competing requirements helps the team come together around a specification. It also brings these requirements to the surface, giving the automation vendor a clear understanding of what is vital to the project.
- A drawing package with the latest revisions and sample materials. This may sound simplistic but rushing through this stage and proceeding without comprehensive documentation and production representative samples will lead to mistakes, rework, and delays. Don’t cut corners here!
- Establish a budget. It may seem counter-intuitive to share your available investment. A concern about being taken advantage of with your budget exposed is natural. In order for your perspective adhesive die-cut automation partner to offer up the right solution, there needs to be an understanding of what your rough monetary constraints are. Be realistic with them and they will be empowered to guide you toward a solution with the right feature set given your financial limitations.
- Ensure all supply chain members are aware that this process will be automated. There are multiple methods for an adhesive converter to produce a die cut and manufacturing methods are quite different and lower tech for hand assembly. The expertise of a quality die-cut converting organization can help guide you successfully through the maze of manufacturing techniques, liners, and adhesives to achieve the consistent die-cut rolls necessary to automate film adhesive assembly. The first step to helping them help you is awareness.
- Self-analyze your own in-house technical support capability. Automated is not exactly the same as automatic. Complex machines require a support staff with the expertise to help get things back on track when the inevitable machine error or breakdown occurs. Without organizational commitment to have the right team with the right expertise in place your automation investment will never reach its potential payback.
Lastly, acknowledge to yourself that this is not the simplest of things to achieve. It will be challenging and frustrating at times. I can’t tell you it will be easy…I can tell you however, it will be worth it.