Podcast: Making automation accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers

Podcast: Making automation accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers

Feb. 27, 2024
In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, Etienne Lacroix from Vention explains DIY automation and how it can benefit smaller manufacturing companies.

Etienne Lacroix is the founder and CEO of Vention, a company that prides itself on making industrial automation accessible to all manufacturers with a cloud-first, self-serve platform. Etienne recently spoke with Smart Industry managing editor Scott Achelpohl about how fully automated factories are no longer exclusive to large-scale manufacturers with deep pockets. Etienne shows that the DIY approach to automation can allow smaller manufacturers to adopt new technologies and adapt to the changing industrial space.  

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

SI: What is DIY automation exactly, and how does it have the effect of making automation itself more accessible for small and mid-size businesses or SMBs?

EL: I will start answering by talking about why small and medium businesses are not automating as much as they should today. And it's not because they face less cost pressure than the bigger enterprises. It's definitely not because they face less labor shortages than the bigger enterprises as well. I think the reason why we see small and medium manufacturers automating at a much lower rate than large enterprises is simply because it's not profitable for them to do.

If you think about a shop floor, most manufacturing assets will be custom made or unique. And that is mostly because manufacturers produce goods that are unique themselves and therefore deserve unique and custom assets. And today, if you want to create those custom assets, you're probably going to subcontract the help of an engineering firm or a system integrator to assist you through that journey, right? That system integrator will take various components from traditional providers of industrial automation and try to assemble them into a robot cell or automated equipment. And to do that, it's actually quite complex, and it will consume a significant amount of manhours. I like to say there's nothing more manual than industrial automation because of the sheer amount of engineering content needed to create those custom machines.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl

Scott Achelpohl is the managing editor of Smart Industry. He has spent stints in business-to-business journalism covering U.S. trucking and transportation for FleetOwner, a sister website and magazine of SI’s at Endeavor Business Media, and branches of the U.S. military for Navy League of the United States. He's a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism with many years of media experience inside and outside B2B journalism.

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