Thursday, September 21, 2023

We asked people on the front lines of manufacturing about the latest trends: here's what they said - part 2

Industry Insiders Identify Industrial Engineering Trends

By Sandia Harrison, Director of Marketing, FPE Automation

You Asked: We Answered - Part 2

Thanks to everyone for your overwhelmingly positive feedback after part 1 of the "You Asked: We Answered" blog series appeared in your social media feeds last week. To recap, it seemed to be ideal timing to ask several individuals at the front lines of automation what they believe to be the biggest emerging trends in manufacturing.

Here's what they had to say this time around: 

Zachary Thoma
Kawasaki Robotics

I would say it's all about non-proprietary connectivity right now. People don't want to be handcuffed by an OEM's restrictions or recurring licensing fees, they want something akin to the open architecture programming environment that Kawasaki Robotics offers.

Zach Thoma has been improving manufacturing processes and procedures all over the globe for twenty years. He enjoys fitting companies large and small with the right solution and making their processes better. Zach is the creator of the popular podcast series Bot Sh!t Crazy. He is also a strong advocate for mental fitness in the workplace. He is based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and is Midwest Regional Sales Manager for Kawasaki Robotics USA, Inc.

Kendra Patton

Manufacturers are feeling pressure to maintain production while balancing retention rates for employees. We see our customers looking for simple and user-friendly technology that can be implemented quickly without disrupting the current production. Focusing on simplicity for projects, the Robotiq Palletizing Solution continues to be a great fit for these initiatives within various factories. We see implementations that are easily repeated on additional lines within customer facilities which allows standardization throughout the facility.

When the sweeping movement toward collaborative robots (cobots) arrived with unprecedented influential force over the industrial automation industry, Kendra was there. Since then, she has worked with manufacturers on numerous, varied projects to eliminate specific pain points. Using cobots for over half of her career, she understands the market fit and technical needs for applications. As the Palletizing Expert at Robotiq, she focuses on end-of-line deployments using their palletizing solution featuring Universal Robots.

Wes Doty

We are seeing the continued prioritization of employee retention, and the “up-skilling” of current employees in an effort to retain top talent.  We at Mech-Mind Robotics have robust camera hardware, as well as a software suite that is intuitive enough for someone early in their technical career to grasp quickly to make an impact and featureful enough to keep a technical veteran engaged in their personal development, quicker deployment of machines and overall reductions in hardware costs. It’s truly a win-win for all.

Wesley Doty is best described as a motivational sales strategist, growth driver, player-coach and team builder. He is an experienced national sales leader with a demonstrated history of success in the industrial automation industry. He has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) focused in Sales, Distribution, and Marketing Operations, General from Purdue University.

Jomy Vadakumpadam
FPE Automation

I am seeing that our customers are looking to partner more with solution providers rather than purchase their automation products from re-sellers. They want to work with someone who can provide value more than just handling the transaction. For example, a robot purchase from Vendor A, PLC purchase from Vendor B, and a Vision solution from Vendor C can lead to a very complicated and potentially frustrating timeline to get these three technologies working together. At FPE Automation, we pride ourselves on being experts in all of these areas of technology. When you work with FPE, you can have the confidence that the Panasonic PLC we sold alongside to work with that Universal Robot and Zebra camera will work together and get set up with minimal startup/development time. 

20 years ago, fresh out of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Jomy Vadakumpadam helped launch the first Automation Controls Division team at FPE Automation. He nurtured the ACD from its origins to the large, talented team of engineers it is today, all the while working with customers large and small to help them automate. For that reason, it's hard to describe the nuances of his considerable experience in the field, or the level of industry respect for his knowledge. Jomy's role is Vice President of Sales & Engineering.

Paul Powers
Zebra Technologies

Manufacturers are finding that they cannot ignore automation on the factory floor.  For some, what was once an industry term referenced at a conference, is now part of short-term initiatives.  With AI-based technology on the forefront of automating processes, we must challenge ourselves to the openness of evolving industrial progressions.

Paul Powers is Senior Channel Account Manager - Machine Vision & Imaging at Zebra Technologies. When first partnered with FPE Automation, Paul's extensive background in automation instantly made him an invaluable asset to our applications engineering team. With a natural talent for problem-solving and a great personality, it's always a pleasure to work with Paul on any vision or imaging project.

Additional Thoughts

I'll continue to reach out to others for their industry trend observations. Stay tuned for round three! 

Do you work in industrial automation? If so, you probably have your own ideas about where smart manufacturing is headed. Would you like to contribute next time? If so, feel free to reach out to me@sandiaharrison, with your brief, two or three-sentence statement and a lighthearted bio like the ones you see here. I'd enjoy hearing what you have to say!