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What is 'Smart Customization'?

04-09-2017 by Peter Geurts.

Terms such as ETO, CTO and Smart Customization are used frequently in machine construction. What do they mean? We believe everyone working in machine building should know the development described by these words:

ETO (engineering to order) -> CTO (customize to order) -> Smart Customization

At GTE, we believe everyone working in machine building should know the term Smart Customization. The only way to make automation more affordable while ensuring the same or even higher quality, is to standardize as much as possible. Smart customization means the use of standardized parts wherever possible, only designing specific parts to fit various assembly and packaging processes.

Smart customization is for example used in the development of the personal computer. The players in the PC industry agreed on standardized solutions from the get-go. This allows nearly all brands to connect hard disks, graphics cards, disk drives or memory cards to virtually any motherboard.

In machine construction, we are used to start our design from the product to be manufactured. Our engineers construct new machines ‘around’ the properties of that product. This way, recurring substructures are reinvented time and again. Engineers are expected to create a construction with as many standard parts as possible, like nuts and bolts, wheels, motors, etc, but usually don’t think about using complete standard substructures. Engineers will probably say the use of standard substructures is not possible, because when tasks and products vary, standardization is no option. But when you look at assembling and packaging processes (which in core is also assembly) of various products, you'll find a lot of similarities in the base. For example, when you look at the assembly of a syringe or packaging of an inhaler, you’ll find very different processes, but with many similarities in the essence.

By default, both processes need:

  • a control cabinet
  • a base frame
  • machine casing
  • a wiring harness plan
  • a (product) transport system
  • component supply systems

Following the Smart Customization philosophy, the base of these particular substructures can be similar for both products. In our expert opinion, you only need one standardized machine to assemble or package these and many other products. The assembly or packaging process just needs to be made suitable to product-specific properties and shapes.

LAP-c

An example of a base machine is our LAP-c, or Lean Automation Platform circular. This platform is suitable for many products. The benefits of the LAP-c:

- The substructures of the LAP-c machine all have the same base design and are created to make the machine easily adaptable to suit many processes. Its structures are robust and qualitatively better than other structures, because much time and energy is put into the design of these substructures. Every detail is well thought out.

  • The door safety switches are concealed in the machine casing.
  • The operator interface is well thought out: a light curtain or 3d safety scanner ensures a safe working environment.
  • The indexing table has programmable indexing options.
  • The drive is quiet, low maintenance and accurate.
  • The machine casing design is effective and has a modern look.
  • The use of LED panels allows for communication with light and colour.
  • The substructures have a compact footprint.
  • They are easily accessible for maintenance.

- There is a cost advantage to working with standard substructures, because the base has already been developed. This base can be built repeatedly and even simultaneously if desired. It also requires fewer validation tests. The design is lean, smart and overall very cost-effective.

- Because the base already exists, developing a machine requires a shorter lead time. Components can quickly be assembled.

Check out LAP-c for more information on our standard platform.

Peter Geurts

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