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5 minute read • published in partnership with Desoutter

Insight: The key to making smart factory investments with swift payback

Maximising returns on capital investments is crucial in today’s budget-conscious landscape. Savvy manufacturers are harnessing expert guidance from strategic partners to align their purchasing decisions with growth plans and ensure the expected benefits are delivered.

“If you want to stay in the game you’ve got to be ahead of the game,” declared the Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani at Make UK’s National Manufacturing Conference 2024.

While celebrating the thriving state of the sector, the Minister urged manufacturers to become “more self-sufficient and more self-determined,” calling for a more proactive stance towards innovation and investment.

Encouragingly, companies are already incorporating these essential components into their strategies. Recent research* by Make UK shows that manufacturers are placing a heightened emphasis on upskilling and retraining their staff for the future. They are actively seizing the opportunities of digitalisation and are directing investments towards new capital equipment.

Picture: Getty/iStock

However, budgetary constraints and ongoing uncertainties, not least the situation in the Red Sea and the prospect of a General Election, are leading manufacturers to adopt a cautious approach to purchasing decisions.

“Now more than ever, assembly solution providers must deliver not only cutting-edge products but also demonstrate clear and rapid returns on investment,” explains Stephen Draper-Garcia, CPI Business Line Manager, for Desoutter – a global leader in assembly solutions and process control, that in 2024 is celebrating its 110th anniversary.

“When planning upgrades, replacements or additions to their production lines, companies have become more detailed and evidence-oriented. Every pound spent today must yield immediate business value, while also contributing to future growth and sustainability.”

As manufacturers seek greater assurances and value from their investments, their relationship with equipment suppliers has transformed from transactional to collaborative partnerships. This is especially true for Desoutter, a company that has seen a remarkable 240% growth in its consultancy services over the past two years.

“We recognise that every manufacturer is on a unique journey and we ensure our recommendations and solutions are tailored to their specific objectives. That task is made easier thanks to our extensive and expanding ecosystem of products,” Stephen says.

Investing in innovation

The Desoutter ECOSYSTEM combines connected, tools, process control, data analysis, visual guidance and system integration combined with deep expertise. Each part of the ECOSYSTEM is adaptable, interchangeable, backward compatible, expandable and completely customisable, creating scalable, flexible and versatile solutions proven to address key challenges.

“We focus on identifying the right solutions within our ECOSYSTEM that align with a manufacturer’s need. That starts by gaining a deep understanding of exactly what it is a company wants to achieve, such as enhancing OEE, improving operator guidance or reducing energy consumption, and then finely tuning our solutions to precisely fit that goal,” says Michael Heath, UK Operations Manager.

Picture: Getty/iStock

Desoutter’s holistic approach emphasises delivering immediate value while helping map out ongoing, longer-term improvements.

Desoutter maintains close relationships with manufacturers, gaining insights into current challenges and inefficiencies within factories and future expectations. This information is relayed to the R&D team, ensuring future solutions are tailored to address evolving needs.

Nearly 10% of Desoutter’s revenues are reinvested in research and development, demonstrating a clear commitment to continuous innovation and customer-centric product development.

However, investing in new tools isn’t a manufacturer’s only option. In a typical factory setting, operators often use just 40% to 60% of the full capability of equipment. Desoutter specialises in optimising existing production tools, boosting productivity and helping generate capital for future investments.

Desoutter’s powerful data analytics platform is an exciting addition to this strategy, giving invaluable insights into the performance of individual tools or entire production lines.

Harnessing the power of data

Desoutter’s DeMeter software service automates the collection, processing and analysis of production data to improve cycle time, make continuous process improvements and understand production trends to improve long-term efficiency.

Transforming raw data into meaningful insights also enables Desoutter to better guide a manufacturer’s investment decisions by showing them precisely where and when inefficiencies are occurring.

Picture: Getty/iStock

“A UK factory was using production tools from almost a dozen different suppliers and had no system to bring them all together. After successfully implementing Demeter and our process control software, Pivotware, we quickly discovered that most tools weren’t functioning as intended and the promised efficiencies hadn’t materialised,” says Michael.

“To remedy this issue, a Desoutter engineer spent a day each week onsite to assess overall efficiency and drive improvements using their expertise and data insights. Collaborating as an extension of the factory engineering team, our expert collaborated with the manufacturer and the other suppliers to optimise the production line, resulting in an immediate efficiency boost.

“Our deep understanding of the operation meant that when the manufacturer decided to invest in new tools, we were able to suggest solutions that would bring the most value. In manufacturing, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s become essential to plug those gaps in our knowledge with actionable insights gained from a platform like DeMeter.”

Michael agrees, adding that whether evaluating an investment or focusing on continuous improvement, having the right information is paramount.

Typically, overall equipment and production efficiency (OEE) is analysed using just a few data points. However, DeMeter, when paired with Pivotware, examines hundreds distinct reference indicators, with each of our smart tools contributing over a hundred. Moreover, the inclusion of historical data (which can be analysed and compared with real-time factory conditions) offers a range of further insights, allowing truly holistic analysis of any production environment.

“While a machine operator might identify a couple of obvious bottlenecks or inefficiencies, the comprehensive insights provided by DeMeter ensure a much deeper understanding, resulting in a more productive, sustainable and ultimately, competitive factory.”

Executive Survey 2024 – Make UK