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Purchasing and Buying Tips for Automation and Manufacturing

By OTC Insights Team on December 12, 2022

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OTC Insights Team

Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.

As automation technology, and robotics specifically, have increased in capability and availability, manufacturers have come to rely on them.  

However, even though companies can expect an increase in efficiency and a remarkable return on investment, the initial purchase is very costly. This increases the risk of that initial purchase. A poor purchase, one that doesn’t deliver the expected benefits, has high maintenance costs, or has limited functionality, can have a lasting impact on the business’s bottom line and viability.  

That’s why it is critical to make smart and informed planning and purchasing decisions with manufacturing automation and robotics. In this article, we’ll cover some buying tips and information that will help as you build your own automation strategy. 

Purchasing a Manufacturing Robot? Get Expert Installation Support from OTC. Get Started.

Who Sells Robots for Manufacturing? 

In the past, when robotics and automation were still a developing technology, there were only a few channels for purchasing robots. Today, there are more opportunities and more opportunities for mistakes. Consider the following channels: 

  • Automation and robotics manufacturers: Many companies that design and build industrial robots allow direct purchases of systems. Products from companies like Epson, ABB, Fanuc, and Yaskawa are common sights on shop floors. That said, there are risks associated with purchasing direct. Many build robots but don’t necessarily install or service them. They are experts in designing and building the technology but may not have the manufacturing expertise necessary to optimize it. 
  • Automation suppliers and service providers: Typically, a distributor like OTC Industrial Technologies will partner with a manufacturer to sell and service its best products. It will purchase the products at a greater discount and then sell them to the end user. For manufacturers, this gives you more choices and options. In addition, some suppliers will have expertise and experience on hand in utilizing automation. This means you benefit from best practices and resources from multiple installations, as well as additional training if you need it (and which most manufacturers will benefit from). 
  • Distributors: There are low-cost distributors, typically online and ecommerce companies, that sell robotics at a highly discounted price. That low cost is a benefit, but it comes with little support or consultation. It is also possible to purchase hard-to-find systems and units, and because of sitting inventory, even some products that are currently unavailable can be found and purchased. However, for many companies, you get the efficiency and benefit that you pay for. 
  • Used distributors: It is possible to find used and refurbished systems online through sites like eBay. Manufacturers that shut down will often resell their systems, and they can be purchased at a significantly discounted price. This is also a method of finding out-of-stock items or systems that are no longer manufactured or available. With these purchases, it really is buyer beware. While many units are refurbished or repaired, the company selling them doesn’t have the expertise and can’t provide the reliable support manufacturers need. 

The Need for Automation Expertise  

The truth is, a robotics system like an armature is only one component of a complete automation solution. 

In addition to that robot, you’ll need sensors that can provide the data and information the robot needs to operate efficiently. You need to understand the manufacturing goals of the system, and how it fits within the overall production process. Whoever sets up the system will have to evaluate: 

  • How the product will enter and be received by the robotic system. 
  • How quality checks will be conducted to prevent and correct errors and identify non-conformances. 
  • What safety features like light curtains, alarms, and notifications will be handled and implemented. 
  • If there are any regulations that should be addressed in the automation system. 
  • What training and instructions a user or operator will need. 
  • What maintenance and repair requirements and needs will the system have. 
  • What additional products and inventory should be kept on hand for repair and service of the system. 

Simply purchasing the equipment is only one piece of the overall puzzle that is implementing robotics and automation for manufacturers. For many companies, buying new systems is the easy part. Installation, design, support, training, and implementation are much more difficult, especially when the company doesn’t have that expertise on hand. 

Purchasing Robotics for Manufacturing 

Before you make an investment in automation and robotics, take a few minutes to set up a no-obligation consultation with an expert at OTC Industrial Technologies. 

The team works with many of the biggest and most advanced industrial robot manufacturers. They have the experience and expertise that can make a difference in your project. OTC is an end-to-end supplier offering turnkey solutions, working with your team to meet your manufacturing and business goals. 

Even if you purchase a robotic system from another company, OTC can help you maximize the benefit for the investment. Contact OTC today to learn more.