When investing in an automated sheet metal production system, there are several different aspects or criteria that need to be considered, for example productivity, quality of the produced goods, delivery time, and of course, the value of the investment. When comparing the offers of two or more manufacturers, production managers, purchasing managers and CEOs normally use the gathered information and assess the best choice based on the above criteria and on their experience in the field.
In this article, you'll find a simple method to take into account the different criteria and their overall value in the decision, and calculate a number that will help in the decision on the best purchasing solution.
Main criteria for production systems comparison
The criteria suggested, in the case of the purchasing of a production system, are the following: feasibility, quality of the produced part, productivity, reliability, efficiency, serviceability, ease of use, flexibility, level of automation, level of safety, and payback time.
Let’s now see the meaning of each criterion.
Is the capacity and the experience of the selected manufacturer in the production of the specific machine.
Normally, in scouting for suppliers, it is normal to find companies that are specialized more in one application field than in the other. It is important to see the products made by the supplier’s machines, in order to understand its experience in the specific industrial sector and product.
Quality of the produced part
This is the quality of parts made by the machine. The quality can be a measure of accuracy, bad parts/good parts ratio and can depend again on the experience of the selected manufacturer in the production of the specific good.
Is the productivity of the machine in terms of meters per minute/hour, parts per minute/hour. This figure should take into account also the Efficiency figure that I describe later on.
Sustainability and "Green" technologies
In these years more than ever, sustainability becomes one of the key criterion in the choice of a production technology. It turns out that "green" technologies such as servo electric punch presses have lower power consumption and require less maintenance by eliminating or greatly reducing the use of hydraulic oil. Moreover, new production lines such as coil fed lines ensure the production of the same amount of product with significant savings in raw materials.
All this turns out into smaller operating costs and a lower cost per part - which becomes a huge advantage in order to reduce the payback time, but also in generating extra cash flow in the following years when the amortization of the machine is complete.
Moreover, these technologies have proved to have a greater reliability over the years, and have lower costs for the final disposal of the equipment - due to the absence of oil and hydraulic parts.
The efficiency of the machine takes into account the time that is required for the machine loading and unloading: for example, a machine can have a very high hits per minute rate, but can take a substantial amount of time in the loading/unloading of the raw material.
This criterion expresses how simple is to have the machine serviced. For example it should evaluate the presence of the teleservice facility, the structure of the service of the supplier, the possibility to service the machine with the internal maintenance personnel.
Ease of use
Different sheet metal manufacturing companies stress on the fact that the machines and systems should be easy to use even with non-specialized personnel. This is extremely important in today’s working environment, where no company can be in the position to be dependent on one machine operator.
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