Making production more efficient through modernisation and increased automatization. : A case study at a potato production line
Abstract: As labour prices are rising, and automation gets more advanced, it is important for all process industries to get involved with automation to be able to survive on the open market. Large companies in the process industry have been dealing with automation for decades, thereby making the technology more available and affordable. Smaller companies might not have had the financial strength to invest in such technology in the past, but as the equipment needed becomes more user friendly and affordable, the time for smaller companies to invest in automated systems has come. The cost of buying new automated equipment is high, but the systems in use might not be outdated if machine control and monitoring are modernized. Process technology has in many cases not been changed radically over the last decades, so modernizing of older equipment might be a more affordable way to automize production. In this report, installation and testing of both modernizing and used equipment has been done, and the results are quite convincing. Labour costs are reduced by investing a fraction of the cost compared to new equipment. The modernized machines might not be as future proof as newer machines, but it gives companies without the financial strength to invest in new machines the possibility to compete with modern automated production lines. We took a close study at a potato production line at Glomma Potetpakkeri AS, where we installed and tested a robot palletizer. We also discussed possible upgrades with the manager at the plant and calculated some profitability of the possible investments. A conclusion has been made, and in our perspective, a reasonable amount of automation can be achieved without large investments, and the market for these services do exist.
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