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5 Reasons Machine Builders Are Going Modular

Modular design platforms for machines are becoming increasingly popular. With motion control, manufacturer’s can process and package products at high speeds, and switch easily between recipes. Yet, each manufacturer still has unique needs when it comes to handling product. This is where modularization, building and selling machines with optional add-on modules, comes into play.

Here are 5 advantages to machine designers and their customers that are driving the modularization of machines:

1. Mass Customization

Manufacturer’s can easily customize the machine they are getting by adding on the modules that fit their needs. Engineers are able to easily splice together the parts of the process the manufacturer wants automated, without serious rework of the base machine. For example, in a packaging application, a modular base machine that fills packages can be quickly modified with an extension for cutting and placing labels, running a different sized package, or adding bar-codes and markings. This approach benefits the builders too, allowing modified designs without large investments in non-recurring engineering hours

2. Minimizes Risk

Because the wheel is not being reinvented with module add-ons, manufacturers face less economic risk when moving into a new design or new capability. A standard machine can be quickly modified to try a new package or capability, without the purchase of a whole new machine or process. If something doesn’t work out or specification change again, only a small part of the machine, the module with the added in ability, has to be modified, rather than an entire line. Changes are easier and less expensive to make.

3. Reduced Costs

Cost savings with this approach begin with the manufacturer, who saves costs and maximizes profit by building “standardized custom machines”. This cost is translated into the price of the final machinery for the customer. Manufacturer’s also see reduced costs in this approach anytime a modification or repair to the machine needs to be made. Modules have the ability to quickly add onto or break apart the different functions of the machine apart allow for easier maintenance and faster modifications.

4. Faster Solutions

Modules can be ordered, delivered and installed faster than a new machine can be designed, because they are pre-designed and only need minor adjustments. Much of the engineering work is eliminated. Even controls and integration time can be reduced with this approach, by simply chaining together smart drives of the different modules in a kind of “plug-and-play” fashion.

5. Flexibility

Even after the original customization through unique sets of modules, manufacturer’s can continue to change the machines abilities quickly and cost effectively. Machines can be altered for different sized packages, different marking techniques, labels and a variety of other possible line changes by adding or modifying existing modules.

Custom machine modules provide quick, cost effective solutions to manufacturer’s while still providing the customized attention varying products need. Much like modularization in process systems, this approach provides economic and time-saving benefits to both the machine builder and their customer.

EPIC is a multi-discipline machines manufacturer and engineering firm specializing in custom machines and modular process systems. To learn more about EPIC, visit our website or contact an engineer today.

3 Responses to 5 Reasons Machine Builders Are Going Modular

  1. cclark March 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Great post!

  2. Charles April 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    I totally agree with the plug and go systems. It is much less invasive from manufacturing standpoint.

  3. epicsys-admin April 8, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    Charles makes a great point. Also, custom machines gives the ability for manufacturers to improve their process in a specific sector. Great post!

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