MINI CASE STUDY:
EXCEEDING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS THROUGH SUPERIOR ENGINEERING
AMtec's Superior Engineering Capabilities Helps Company Routinely Exceed Customer Expectations
By first understanding client's broader goals and objectives, AMtec identifies opportunities for engineering solutions that deliver results that exceed expectations.
AMtec recently began working with a leading Bay Area based manufacturer of advanced liquid handling instruments for life scientists worldwide. Since beginning their working relationship, AMtec has helped the client dramatically accelerate the upgrade and expansion of its instrument production capacity with new, state-of-the-art control systems engineered and manufactured at AMtec.
The client’s instruments were in high demand due to the pandemic, but the company was finding it difficult to upgrade and expand its production to capitalize on the increased demand. Additional production tools were needed in order to catch up and eliminate a very large backlog of orders.
At the client’s manufacturing facility, dozens of existing tools produced instruments, each tool controlled by 3 different control boxes, each box with 200-300 individually wired connections onto the tool being controlled. The existing control box design included several deprecated components and was not well-documented, and the client was facing end-of-service challenges for a number of components, making replacement parts sourcing a challenge.
The process of replacing or expanding tooling was the primary bottleneck. Given hundreds of individual wiring connections, the highly manual process to connect the 3 control boxes to each new tool and test each setup was taking 2-3 weeks per tool. This long implementation time exposed upgrades and expansions to issues such as availability of skilled talent and ongoing turnover. Additionally, the existing control box supplier didn’t have the bandwidth to deliver new boxes fast enough to ramp production at the needed rate.
The company approached AMtec simply looking for additional bandwidth to build out quantities of the existing control boxes. AMtec put together a team of manufacturing engineers, mechanical engineers, a purchasing manager, manufacturing team, and a quality team to evaluate the existing request. Stepping back and critically evaluating needs versus wants, AMtec manufacturing engineers saw an opportunity to rethink the control boxes completely, upgrading and simplifying internal components to current state-of-the-art designs, and totally redesigning the connectors into plug-and-play cabling assemblies for faster and safer installation. In fact, the redesigned boxes inspired the company to inquire about further upgrades that were possible. In the end, a far superior solution was arrived at, compared to the prior setup.
The new, totally redesigned control boxes are built at AMtec and are pre-tested before shipment to the customer, ready to be installed with no opening required. Each features updated components, CNC machined enclosures, custom silkscreened labelling, and fast assembly features. Thanks to the new plug-and-play cabling design, which dramatically speeds up installation, the client will be able to ramp production faster as new tools are acquired.
Another benefit of the new design was that the skill level required to install the new control boxes was greatly reduced, expanding the pool of employees who could install them, helping the company increase production capacity faster and more reliably. Additionally, with ready-to-go spares, if maintenance is required, the company has the option to simply swap out equipment quickly, thanks to the plug-and-play design. Finally, the AMtec team updated all schematics and documentation to current standards.
By patiently working to first understand the client company’s business goals and thoroughly analyzing the broader scope of challenges within the client’s manufacturing environment, AMtec’s team of engineers was able to provide an innovative, upgraded solution that met the company’s actual needs (vs wants) in a way that exceeded expectations, and positioned the client for superior operational results.