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Factory automation: The way of the future

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Automation and automated processes are the way of the future for the manufacturing industry. 

Not only do they ensure that manufacturers are able to keep the quality of their product at the same level for their output, most importantly it makes the factory floor safer, by removing the worker from potentially dangerous situations. 

More manufacturers are turning to these processes to streamline their operations and to battle the constant threat of rising costs on the factory floor and along the supply chain. 

These cost concerns, if not addressed through automated and robotic measures, often result in manufacturers looking to outsourcing instead, often moving jobs, and the revenue streams they create, offshore. 

But with this drive towards greater automation, many companies have been found difficulty in sourcing the right products and the high initial cost for the right automation technology. 

The local offshoot of successful German manufacturer Turck, Turck Australia, incorporated in August 2007 and has been operating as a factory and process automation "one-stop shop" since. 

With a 25-year history in the industry - including at enduring German electronics companies Sick and Siemens - managing director Cameron Dwyer sees his company's strength as being able to compete on cost as well as service.  

"We've noticed the trend is that people are getting very, very frugal with their purchasing requirements," Dwyer told Ferret

He's seen customers in his market - and this will hardly be a revelation to readers - demanding more for less and wanting to find it all in the one spot. 

"We find that as the marketplace has evolved, purchasing is a lot smarter than it used to be," he said.  

"If you went back a lot of years people were there to spend budgets whether they needed it or not, or they'd lose it, but those days are gone.  
Product R&D at Turck is something taken care of at its United States and Germany branches. The Australian business focuses on operating as a hardware sales outlet.  

"People don't buy spare parts any now. They expect you to carry it on the shelf. What we've done is make sure we have stock to suit what our customers' demands are. We have quite an inventory in our Melbourne store to cater exactly to that market." 

Dwyer mentioned the company's recently-released like of commodity cables, cord sets and inductive sensors, adding again that whatever was offered had to be affordable to a market that isn't as buoyant as it used to be.  

"So Turck's tried to cater to that market. There's many others, I guess. But we believe the one thing that sets us aside is our ability to listen to customers' needs and desires. And then to find a product to fit that jigsaw puzzle." 

Another strength of the business, and another jigsaw piece in the set, believes Dwyer, is the expansion of its photoelectric sensors and optical sensing products offerings. 

"What it's done is it's really rounded out our portfolio," he said.

"There was little bit of a gap in the product portfolio of Turck and the addition of those means that customers now see us as more of a one-stop shop, where we have the complete product offering, so they don't have to go off to our competitors to source those products."

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