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5 Ways Factory Automation in the Energy Industry Spurs Innovation

The energy sector is experiencing a major upheaval. Factory automation will define the next generation of industry leaders.

Some days, it seems like all eyes are on the energy industry. Already one of the most competitive markets on the planet, it is also subject to a range of social, geopolitical, and economic pressures. Each of these pressures would be demanding on their own, but taken together; they amount to a monumental challenge.

 

They also represent a huge incentive. The business that can meet these demands quickly and efficiently, without loss of quality, stands to grow their market share significantly.

 

Factors placing pressure on the energy industry to innovate include:

  • Demand. Over the past century, new technology has increased energy consumption per capita. While new technologies are increasingly becoming more energy-efficient, the demand remains high.
  • Cost. Everyone wants cheaper energy, yet a range of factors—from the varying prices of oil to the regulations designed to lower carbon emissions—have caused energy prices to rise. Industry leaders need to find a way to provide cheap, clean energy.
  • Fossil fuel independence. The move away from fossil fuels is causing energy manufacturers to search for new, efficient sources of green energy. These include everything from wind turbines and solar panels to more efficient nuclear reactors.
  • Technological advancement. Engineers and researchers are continually advancing the leading edge of energy technology. This includes nuclear fusion, which new research from MIT suggests might be nearer at hand than previously expected.

 

As energy manufacturers respond to these challenges, it is essential they find a factory automation partner who can help them survive, adapt, and thrive. Here are five ways automation solution providers like Eagle Technologies make this possible.

 

1. Fast turnaround times on projects help energy leaders be more responsive.

When an opportunity arises that might give an energy manufacturer an edge in the field, quick response time is key. Production timelines that take years to complete may mean that by the time they are ready to implement their new system, the window to do so has passed them by.

 

At Eagle, the focus we have placed on our own processes means we are better able to adapt to our customer’s needs—and to help them adapt in turn. We have reduced our own turnaround times on projects from a full year to six or seven months, and our 97% on-time delivery rate means that our customers can depend on us to have their equipment ready while they move forward with their side of the project. This is not an easy task! Ask any of our Eagle employees, and I’m sure they will agree that timelines are one of the more challenging aspects of even the most advanced designs and execution tasks of a project.

 

2. Experience with a range of material handling technologies broadens automation possibilities.

Advances in the energy industry often require experience handling volatile chemicals, delicate materials, and sometimes both together. Solar energy panels are an excellent example of this, as the assembly process involves manipulating fragile silicone plates, and treating them with chemical solutions, all of which must be done in a safe environment.

 

Our experience producing automated solutions includes work in solar, wind, and nuclear energy, as well as creating the Eagle Electric Battery Assembly Machine in partnership with Rockwell Automation. This automation assembly is currently being used in the development of electric vehicles, and is just one example of how working in collaboration with our customers, and industry partners has helped advance green technology.

 

3. Advanced simulation and prototyping give energy engineers a broader toolkit.

Improvements in technology have lowered the costs of trial and error, allowing engineers to test a wider range of ideas during the development process. In particular, simulation technologies reduce the need for physical prototyping, while 3D printing makes the fabrication of prototype components cheaper and faster.

 

At Eagle, we use simulation technology to model how our assembly equipment will work, which helps us discover more efficient ways to design our automation processes. Our 3D printing capabilities mean we can work directly with manufacturers to test their designs and ensure they can be assembled.

 

4. Quality control safeguards ensure output stability.

The speed of innovation can’t come at a sacrifice to quality. This is true for any industry, but in the energy industry, where so much critical infrastructure relies on manufacturers to produce high-quality components, a loss of quality can have severe consequences on both an economic and personal level.

 

As champions of error-free manufacturing, we build quality safeguards into our equipment. These include assembly processes that remove the possibility of error, quality checks that identify production flaws early in the process and remove them from the assembly line, and advanced tracing that can help companies identify the source of an error so that they can rectify it.

 

5. Predictive maintenance monitors reduce downtime and outages.

Finally, unexpected downtime at a production factory can have a chain reaction leading to delays that can easily cost a business its competitive advantage. Identifying necessary maintenance early, and working into the production schedule, can prevent these issues from escalating.

 

We build our assembly equipment with sensors that can help manufacturers identify machines that require maintenance before they break down. These sensors can be incorporated into a smart system that allows operators to monitor production quality from anywhere on the factory floor, streamlining the maintenance process.

 

If you are looking for an automation partner who understands the energy industry inside and out, contact us.

At Eagle, we haven’t just worked in energy—we’ve partnered with industry leaders to be part of the innovation that is shaping the industry. From nuclear fuel rods to wind turbines to battery packs for electric vehicles, our experience in the energy industry has both the breadth and depth to handle any project our customers put before us.

 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can deliver premiere factory automation solutions for your business.

 

LinkedIn Brandon Fuller Brandon Fuller, Eagle Technologies

Eagle Technologies, headquarters in Bridgman, MI

Eagle builds the machines that automate assembly line manufacturing. From high-tech robotics to advanced product testing capabilities, Eagle offers end-to-end manufacturing solutions for every industry.

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