Preliminary design saves a significant amount on final costs in serialization projects
“It is important for the special requirements of a serialization project to be very clear from the outset of the project,” says Project Engineer Marko Karvonen from Servicepoint. He warns that changes made “on the floor” can become four to five times more expensive than change work taken into consideration in the drafting table. Preliminary design is too often seen as an added cost that can be saved on, but the consequences can show in the final cost of the project.
“Preliminary design should be seen as a top investment, which is highly significant from the standpoint of a successful entity. The project is more efficient when it is clearly defined. Preliminary designing can also minimize both technical and financial risks,” says Karvonen.
A technical risk can be for example a critical device on the production line, which could cause significant production losses if its functionality were to be disrupted. In preliminary designing, this type of risk is identified, and ways to ensure and if necessary replicate the functionality of the device are considered.
In assessing financial risks it is determined how much of the customer’s capital would be committed to the project, and whether the automation of production lines would be sensible overall. Another option is subcontracting production.
“Preliminary designing also identifies bottlenecks in production or new possibilities that have gone unnoticed. It may be found that it is more sensible to handle some functions manually instead of automating everything. In this way, the preliminary designing also serves as a basis for return on investment, when it is first carefully determined what functions are worth automating. In the same way, it serves as a basis for the company’s decision-makers regarding why production lines must be replaced,” Karvonen advises.
Safe packing as a special requirement
Karvonen was most recently in charge of a safe packing and serialization project for explosives. The work, done for an international customer, was completed at the end of May.
“Together with the customer, we decided on a semi-automated solution. They have slower machines at the beginning of the production process that cannot produce products fast enough to make automation at the end of the process necessary. The line we delivered already allows for a 50 percent increase in production efficiency. Automation of the end of the process can be done in a later phase,” Karvonen describes.
There were numerous special requirements for the project. The most significant issue to be considered was safety, as the line handles products that pose a significant risk.
“For instance, the workstation was planned so that sensitive material cannot be squeezed or accumulate as dust, for example in pipes. Dust in a pipe is a ticking pipe bomb that will explode if there is a fire. Grounding (static electricity) and monitoring of surface temperatures also had to be done with great precision,” says Karvonen.
CTO, Chief Technology Officer
Servicepoint Kuopio Oy