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How To Overcome Labour Challenges with Automation Technology


Vince D’Alessio, President of Elliott Matsuura Canada, shares how applying a systems approach to Automation Technology can help reduce labour and manufacturing process costs.

The manufacturing industry is faced with increasing expenses and shortages in skilled labour, causing machines to run for less time or be shut down more frequently. When machines aren’t running, it’s lost revenue and manufacturers are stressed because they cannot meet their production needs.  

To thrive in this rapidly changing and competitive industry, manufacturers need to find ways to reduce labour and process costs while increasing productivity. 

At The Best of Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS), October 4-7 in Toronto, Elliott Matsuura Canada will be exhibiting some of the latest automation technology, including pallet systems and robotic automation.  

Elliott Matsuura Canada has been supplying Canadian manufacturers with quality machine tools for over 70 years. We spoke with Vince D’Alessio, President of Elliott Matsuura Canada, for a preview of what to expect at The Best of CMTS 2021 and how automation technology can help manufacturers overcome labour shortages. 

Q: How can automation technology help manufacturers reduce costs and overcome the challenges of access to skilled labour? 

Automation technologies such as Robotic part loading, pallet loading can keep machines running longer and unattended, making manufacturers more efficient. Often I see companies focusing on making a part faster, but that does help at 3:00 am when equipment is sitting idle due to labour shortages. More than ever, manufacturers need to think about efficiency improvements to survive and become really successful. 

Q: Tell us about what you see in the future of automation technology for manufacturing? 

Collaborative robots are picking up momentum, and most robotic companies are introducing a line. The most important aspect of robots is the ease of use and implementation so low-skilled workers can get them set up and operational in a short period. I always suggest keeping the first automation implementation simple. 

Automation is great at solving the main problem of keeping a machine operational. The potential downside is that you can create bottlenecks before and after loading machines, so it’s important to understand the process as a whole system. This often leads to the integration of auxiliary processes. 

Q: What are the key takeaways manufacturers should keep in mind when applying new automation technology to their business? 

A proper needs analysis is the first step. We have the advantage of having worked with many different companies and industries and have seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t work. We use that knowledge when proposing solutions to our customers. 

We often see companies avoiding automation investment due to a lack of in-house resources and concerns about implementation failure. It’s important to pick a partner that can provide a solution with full support, including commissioning and after-sales Application Engineering support. 

Q: What can manufacturers expect to gain from attending The Best of CMTS 2021 and engaging with this new technology and industry experts?

 When manufacturers attend these shows, they can engage with the people in booths, talk about their problems, network, and help us better understand their struggles. These are unsolicited, down-to-earth discussions that allow us all to build relationships. A company can’t exhibit everything they do at a show, so the key is to build those relationships paving the way for further consultation. 

You will see the newest technology, but more importantly, you’ll explore different industries and learn about new ideas that can help solve problems. You may not discover the solution itself, but you’ll find these little nuances that can make a big impact on what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t put yourself out there and engage, you’ll miss out. There are so many opportunities that you won't be aware of if you don’t engage. 

Q: Why are The Best of CMTS and The Best of WMTS on your must-attend list this year amidst so much uncertainty? 

This year we are just coming off a pandemic with many events cancelled, and this year, in particular, it will be interesting to see how the shows shape out. They will be smaller because everyone is easing into it, and everyone will be conservative, but we are very interested to see how customers come back to engage. Even in slower periods, it’s important for companies to be out there looking for solutions. We’re focused on building relationships, networking and getting in front of the customers.

The last four CMTS shows we’ve had great customer engagement, high interest levels, and good traffic. When we leave an event with optimism in terms of customers engaging, then that’s a successful show. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.