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Market pressures and the need for automation: An interview with Juan Martinez

February 06, 2024 | Sophie Bisson

As more small and medium manufacturers adopt automation technology, Vention is dedicated to ensuring they have the knowledge, support, and resources to be successful. To this end, we recently launched a 3-part webinar series, ‘Scaling Up with Automation: A Guide for Small to Medium Manufacturers.’ 

Throughout this series, executives from Vention and industry experts explore the compelling need for automation in today’s manufacturing landscape, guide you in identifying your first automation project, and help you build the Advanced Manufacturing Team necessary for success. 

This article offers an overview of the first episode, ‘Market Pressures and the Need for Automation,’ hosted by Joe Wykes, CRO at Vention, and Juan Martinez, VP of Brand and Manufacturing Growth at Spector & Co. 

About Spector & Co.

Spector and Co. is a leading supplier and manufacturer of promotional products in Canada and the U.S. Actively contributing to the growth of the promotional industry, Spector & Co. has embraced automation to work collaboratively with their core technology processes (screenprinting, engraving, stamping, etc.). However, beyond this, the company consistently explores the convergence of technology applications from different industries to create added value. 

Market pressures impacting the business

For Spector & Co., the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call on the fragility of their industry. Their heavy reliance on in-person staff left them vulnerable, especially as many of these tasks were repetitive and could easily be automated. When work output fluctuates, Spector identifies where they can add value to facilitate the team’s work while increasing quality. 

The role of automation on a high-mix manufacturing floor

As a small, high-mix manufacturer, Spector & Co. has primarily relied on traditional technologies to produce promotional products. As the costs and barrier to entry began to decrease for automated technologies in the last decade significantly, Spector began to investigate how automation could improve their productivity and quality, while simultaneously improving the lives of their workers.

Today, automation seamlessly intersects with traditional technologies on the Spector & Co. manufacturing floor. This keeps them at the forefront of innovation and even serves as a “wow factor” for clients visiting their manufacturing floor for the first time. 

The impact of automated technology on employees

At Spector & Co., automation has been a welcome technological advancement. Their highly adaptable staff is trained 2-3 times per year on new technology, ensuring that automation is viewed as a new tool rather than a replacement for human roles. When hiring, selection is based on learning ability, commitment, and passion—human traits that Spector identifies as necessary for the successful adoption of automation technology.

We have never considered automation as a replacement for a human factory, it has been more similar to a new tool, making the position and activities we are focusing on more interesting and rewarding for our team.” - Juan Martinez, VP of Brand & Manufacturing Growth 

Mitigating deployment automation risk

As a smaller manufacturer just entering the world of automation, Spector & Co. acknowledges its limited automation expertise on its manufacturing floor. To address this gap, they worked with Vention as a trusted partner. Today, Vention does more than provide Spector with automated solutions; they also help identify manual processes that could be easily automated, determine how to get the strongest ROI, and tools and training for upskilling the team. 

In a tour of Spector’s manufacturing facility, Vention recommended starting their first project by looking at consistent and repeatable actions. Machine tending was identified as the best entry point because of the strong ROI potential. While machine tending was the first, it is definitely not the last and Spector is always actively looking at other processes to automate. 

We know what we do and partner with [Vention] to identify where we can actually implement and deploy this technology.”  - Juan Martinez, VP of Brand & Manufacturing Growth  


Ushering in a new era

Spector and Co. is a small, high-mix manufacturer changing the rules of automation. By integrating new technologies with the traditional, hiring capable staff and re-training often, and finding a reliable automation expert in Vention, Spector is on their way to successfully withstanding volatile market pressures with automation. 

Interested in learning more? Watch the full webinar on-demand for even more insights from Joe Wykes and Juan Martinez:

Market Pressures and the Need for Automation is the first webinar in a three-part series. Tune in to Episode 2: How to Identify Your Automation Project with Mathieu Desmarais,
VP of Application Engineering at Vention. Next up: Episode 3: Building Your Advanced Manufacturing Team with Etienne Lacroix, CEO and Co-Founder of Vention on February 9th at 1:00 PM ET. Register today.

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