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Three of the Best Hidden Money Savers for Your Facility

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We all know there are really only two ways to increase the bottom line – spend less or make more, each of which can be accomplished in several ways. In this article, we will discuss three of the top hidden money savers in your facility.

1)    Ergonomics

Ergonomics and safety projects often sit on the backburner until someone is injured. The direct expense of a potential claim may not justify a change in procedure or equipment. The indirect expense, however, can be off the charts. Here's a quick look at the numbers:

Average direct cost per injury

  • $50,000 for a back injury
  • $62,000 for a slip and fall injury
  • $40,000 for a Carpal tunnel or repetitive motion injury

According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the top three leading causes of workplace injuries are:

  • Overexertion involving outside sources, which includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects, which cost businesses $15.08 billion in direct costs and accounted for nearly a quarter of the overall national burden.
  • Falls on same level ranked second with direct costs of $10.17 billion and accounted for 16.4 percent of the total injury burden.
  • Falls to a lower level ranked third at $5.4 billion and 8.7 percent of the burden.

Besides these direct costs, workplace injuries have associated indirect costs for employers such as hiring temporary employees, lost productivity, change in consistency and quality, increased insurance rates and damage to a company’s reputation.

This category provides a myriad of possible solutions, from clear signage to casters. A few of the more effective solutions are:

  • Carts  
  • Conveyor Systems
  • Eccentric Lifts
  • Forklifts
  • Lift Assists
  • Robots (depending upon application, may be as low as $35,000)
  • Tugs
  • Enclosed Water Jet Cutting Systems

Several of these potential solutions will provide a quick return on investment, solely related to the direct costs. When you also consider the indirect costs, it is hardly worth the risk to leave any questionable work area as-is.

2)    Material Handling Solutions

These projects may be overlooked because we often get into the rut of doing things the way they have always been done.

Even though many of these solutions may overlap with the Ergonomics solutions discussed above, the reasons for implementation are quite different. In this instance, the objective is to provide a more efficient and effective way to handle materials. When planned and implemented correctly, these applications will help:

  • Optimize workflow
  • Increase throughput
  • Improve quality
  • Improve consistency
  • Improve energy efficiency
  • Improve safety
  • Decrease labor costs

Material handling - moving supplies, storing parts, packaging, etc. - may be accomplished in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Conveyor Systems such as roller conveyors, ball conveyors, belt conveyors, chain conveyors, gravity conveyors, pallet conveyors, and on and on.
  • Lift Assists, which allow staff to pick up and move heavy objects with one hand and without undue bodily strain.
  • ASRS Systems – Automated Send Retrieval Systems - to make better use of your limited space and increase efficiency for locating parts.
  • Packaging Systems such as box erectors, box tapers, palletizers and stretch wrappers, to minimize labor needs in these processes.
  • Robots, which may range from lightweight, easily programmable collaborative robots, to large, intricate, multi-functional robot cells.
  • Customized systems designed to overcome your unique challenges.

Some of these projects are simple and will show a return for a small investment. Some of them are more involved and will require a capital request. Make sure you evaluate the payback and look for a two-year return time period.

    3) Industrial Automation

According to Wikipedia, ‘Automation[1] or automatic control, is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications with minimal or reduced human intervention.Some processes have been completely automated.

But you know that. And you know that these systems may be shelved because of projected costs and perceived lack of return.The areas of material handling and automation often overlap, but full automation means even more.

You may use automation to: 

  • Speed up processes
  • Remove human error
  • Replace people in hard to fill positions
  • Run multiple shifts without paying overtime
  • Leverage new technology with minimal training time

A well-executed automation plan includes several crucial elements: 

  • In-depth evaluation and understanding of the processes involved
  • Intelligent, customized solutions to optimize these processes
  • Proper engineering design
  • Ability to integrate all systems into a cohesive whole
  • Process control to maximize capacity from your plant

These projects are generally more involved, with an eye toward the long game. They will likely require capital monies and buy-in from several levels of leadership. You will want to have good baseline measurements before implementation, so you can prove return. Your manufacturing and automation consultant should be able to clearly evaluate and illustrate your expected ROI.

Our job is to not only make you successful, but to help show your strong value to the organization. We are your Single Source Automation Expert. We provide in-depth manufacturing consulting to understand your operations and goals, provide innovative solutions to meet your needs, and create an environment that is safe and efficient, as you continue to grow your business.

Start your facility transformation today with a quick call.

Congruent Concepts & Solutions

Kirstin Russ

828-676-2800 ext 101


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