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Embracing the Power of Industrial Automation

September 05, 2019 | Michael Di Staulo

As robots are increasingly being integrated into society, what changes need to be made in our current system to adapt to this new world? The Ractonteur Robotics & Automation special report, published in The Times, covers the growing ethical and economic questions surrounding an automated future. Read the in-depth interview with our CEO and co-founder, Etienne Lacroix, below:

From Uber to Airbnb, countless young companies have adopted innovative technologies to radically transform how businesses operate. But until recently, industry-wide disruption in the manufacturing sector had yet to materialize.

The advent of intelligent automation solutions is now letting manufacturers of all sizes implement powerful AI-backed tools that enable them to embrace the future of machine design.

“Industrial automation used to be for large enterprises only. Now, with the arrival of firms like Vention, it’s becoming democratised—and the breadth of applications leveraging automation is about to significantly increase,” explains Etienne Lacroix, CEO and co-founder at Vention, a leading digital manufacturing platform for custom factory equipment.

In the past, the high cost, lengthy timelines, and extensive engineering expertise required to put together a custom automated equipment meant there was limited interest in this field from smaller and less sophisticated manufacturers. Shorter product life cycles have also made it more difficult to recover the up-front costs of such systems.

Vention has an innovative solution that could reinvent the world of machine design. The forward-thinking company offers a simplified self-serve solution that is intuitive enough for the vast majority of manufacturing professionals to use. The company has managed to integrate the entire machine design process into a single workflow, reducing the time, cost, and complexity of industrial automation.

At the core of their solution is a robust and versatile modular hardware system that can easily be assembled for a wide-range of applications – think of it as industrial LEGO. Vention also offers MachineBuilder, an easy-to-use 3D design tool for building various types of equipment from simple industrial furniture to complex automated machines. Accessible through a web browser interface, anyone can design the solution they need and share these designs with other users. After a design is completed, the order ships the next day. From there, it’s easy for users to assemble their machines themselves and put them in operation.

Vention reduces the time it takes for manufacturers to produce custom factory equipment from an average of 3 to 4 months to just three days. And with access to a public library of over 700 designs and Vention’s team of application engineers, smaller firms can now leverage the expertise of more sophisticated machine designers.

“When a user starts a new design, they just have to follow along in our easy-to-use 3D MachineBuilder design platform. It’s free to use and already loaded with Vention’s modular parts. There’s nothing to install, as the platform is accessed via your web browser. You can start a design from scratch or from one of the public designs. If you hit a roadblock, one of our application engineers can quickly jump in and assist you,” says Mr. Lacroix.

As you build your machine in the 3D environment, AI-based recommendations show up to suggest the next part or connection you might like to add. You can also see the total cost and assembly time of your machine in real time (meaning it changes whenever you change something in your design). Vention has also made it simple to automate a machine, by offering plug-and-play components and a code-free automation sequencer – no need to spend weeks coding an automation sequence after assembling your machine.

Customers can save up to 40 percent of the cost of their custom equipment by designing with Vention instead of traditional processes, due to the substantial reduction in engineering hours. And given the scarcity of quality engineering talent that price difference can only be expected to grow.

“At Vention, we’re doing our part to give companies the chance to experience the future of machine design today,” concludes Mr. Lacroix.

To read more articles from The Ractonteur Robotics & Automation, click here.

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