In March last year, ennomotive launched a challenge to help a company specialized in the manufacturing of steel tubes increase its productivity through industrial automation.
The manufacturing process of steel tubes required too many workers because, at the end of the manufacturing line, tubes accumulate and intertwine with each other before they are taken to the storage location where they had to be manually packed and strapped.
The goal of this challenge was to reduce the labor cost in this process by automating the packing process. Ideally, the workers would only feed the installation and pick up the completed packages.
For 6 weeks, 47 engineers from 25 countries accepted the challenge and submitted different solutions. After a thorough evaluation, the company picked the solution that best met the evaluation criteria and awarded the winner, the team formed by Eduardo Puente and Alejandro Amo, from Spain.
We have contacted Alejandro to learn about his experience and the future of innovative automation. Here you can read the full interview.
Alejandro Amo: getting out of the comfort zone to grow professionally
Can you introduce yourself briefly? What is your professional background?
My name is Alejandro Amo, I was born in Barcelona 37 years ago and I am a Civil Engineer. I met my partner in this challenge, Eduardo Puente, during the master on Industrial Management and Organization. I have more than 13 years of experience in civil public works and three years in the industry.
What projects have been truly important for your career?
The construction of the metro station Mercat Nou in Barcelona, which meant putting in practice all the theory I had learned in college, which marked me positively and helped me get to where I am now.
Another project that I consider to be a turning point in my career was the master I studied. Since it was a different sector entirely, it has allowed me to diversify my knowledge both from a theoretical and practical point of view and it has helped me establish myself in the chemical industry sector for a few years.
During this time, I had the possibility of learning a lot, both at a professional and a personal level, immerse myself in productive processes, visit other countries to learn about different working ways, etc. Ultimately, these years outside the comfort zone undeniably helped me to professionally grow more and faster. It was very rewarding.
What innovative automation advances have been made in the past few years?
Everything related to Industry 4.0. This new concept of organizing the means of production allows a qualitative jump within the industry, and most of this improvement is based on the advances made in automation.
Is it difficult to innovate in this sector? Why?
Not really. Any area, sector, and company need to seek the greatest efficiency through a continuous improvement in order to stay competitive, and innovation is an essential part of this never-ending process. Since there is always room for improvement, there will always be room for innovation. If we put the focus on automation, in a broader sense, every repetitive work can be automated. For instance, there are many tasks in non-productive processes that are not given enough importance, maybe because they are slower when they appear on the income statement. However, if automated, these processes would significantly increase the company’s efficiency.
Which do you think will be the most immediate advances in this sector?
I don’t know if it is the most immediate but it will have the greatest impact: the influence of automation in decision-making processes. For example, in supply or preventive maintenance, you can automate when exactly the supplier can come and replace the joint in a machine if you have a cycle meter integrated into the system and a certified supplier. You also need to know its timely response and the machine’s production forecast. Besides, you can automate the impact on production taking into account the halt time for said maintenance.
If you added the Big Data information to synchronize this machine’s maintenance, production, holidays, income statement, etc. to others, we would see great advances in automation.