Ctra. Plencia 9-11, Bº Billela Mungia

Automation in SME: Is it worth risking?


We have now installed a cell in our company an automatic casting for our green sand carousel. As active, we’ve had to implement a robot pouring a ladle, and an oven, a tower of aluminum smelting capacity to generate broth continuously and with quality. Apart from this, we have had to invest in integration and ensuring the security of three elements: robot, carousel and oven.

There is a question to which every manager should seek affirmative when considering an investment in a small business response, and will I be able to increase my profit over the estimated time for the ROI (return on investment) and to pay the expense month that may involve the investment?

That’s assuming that you have the cash or financing to assume that investment, but there is not to ask the question.

In a time when activity in the Basque Country is very slowed down by the European slump, and strength that has been the euro against the dollar, to an outsourcing company like ours, this question can only be answered by assuming as true a premises on which there is no guarantee. Maybe customer will continue asking me the same volume? Can they pay me the products or services you sell? Will I increase my share in the target market for the new investment is raised?

All these and similar questions can not be answered with certainty, for many words or signed papers that may be involved.

So, with so much uncertainty, why undertake the investment? Well, basically, because it’s the only way to secure the future of a small business. In an industrial world as competitive and globalized as the present, where we compete with low cost countries, which are not so remote or so scary as before China or India, but to have a few hours by plane or car, as the case of Portugal, where wages are easily half the handle here, and where now only the alternative premium price, it is necessary to increase productivity and reduce costs enormously. This should not be achieved with a reduction in wages, although it seems obvious that assistance, but should be an increase in productivity that can only be understood through automating processes and reducing operations that do not add value to a product or service (eliminating or reducing handling times and transport, restructuring of positions for more than one operation per post …).

This way, you can get to obtain performance improvements in productivity, which in the case of our installation we have appreciated by about 30%, which in the final product can be assumed about 10% of the final cost.

After seeing these results, we are left to continue increasing automated processes in the company, so that we remain attractive to our customers for existing and potential, that the workload can be maintained within the breakeven point the structure of the business, and thus, ensure the future. There is no other.

Jorge Peral