Robotics in Action: Designed in New Zealand & Built in China

Utilising a range of technologies and managing a revised approach of building select projects closer to market, this project for a major home appliance manufacturer is the first of its kind for Facteon.

New Zealand expat and Operations Leader at Facteon China, Roy Sampson, reflects on the project as it completes the testing phase and moves towards commissioning at the customer’s facility in Southern China.

Why is the delivery of this project such a significant achievement for Facteon?

To successfully complete this project, we worked with our technical design team in New Zealand, our in-market build team based in China, along with the customer’s teams in Europe and China.

The design phase of the project coincided with New Zealand’s highest alert level COVID-19 lockdown. It was a unique time to be working in a cross-country capacity as our teams across New Zealand, Europe and China were all at different stages of the pandemic.

Travel restrictions stress tested our ability to collaborate and the business tools we relied upon. Fortunately, we were able to successfully manage on-site commissioning in person. However, it was an exercise in adaptability as we had to be prepared to complete the install regardless of the evolving COVID-19 situation.

Prior to commencing this project and the pandemic, we identified the opportunity to leverage skills and technologies across our Group.

To deliver for this customer, the co-creation of value involved collaboration within Facteon Group, and between the customer’s Europe and China-based teams and Facteon Group. These four perspectives ultimately highlighted the value in drawing on the customer’s knowledge of their products and Facteon Group’s knowledge of manufacturing technologies.

With manufacturers facing building pressures to meet market demand faster than ever before, Facteon has responded by offering New Zealand designed and locally built solutions for projects where doing so serves as a source of competitive advantage for the customer.

In short, manufacturers are looking for more than just powerful technologies, they are needing a partner that maximises the potential of these technologies within their unique environment. The outcomes of this approach are clear – an ability to meet market demand, reduced costs and future proof operations.

Describe the technology selection process

The technology selection process was highly collaborative. The customer brings knowledge of their product and the manufacturing process. This is complementary to Facteon’s experience in machinery design and automation. Ultimately, Facteon is consistently focused on partnering with manufacturers to deliver the best possible solution.

A cornerstone of the solution is the safety and sensing technologies integrated. As we are designing a modular solution that integrates with existing machinery, safety systems were built into the machinery from the outset. This is a major advantage of a modular solution as we have the flexibility to modernise a portion of the machinery and to upgrade the overall standard of safety without comprising production speed or adding significant additional cost.

In reflecting on the project, what was the most significant learning?

The most significant learning is the adaptability of those involved with the project. We worked to use new technologies, both within the solution itself and in how we worked to create it. As we were unable to collaborate in person, we adjusted to working in a newly formed cross-functional team by collaborating over Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.

A related key learning is the value in continuing to utilise these tools in the post-COVID era. As this project has become the model for future New Zealand designed and locally built solutions, we will continue to utilise this approach and new technologies to deliver for our customers.

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Roy Sampson

Roy Sampson

Operations Leader

As an experienced engineer, Roy contributes to the delivery of world-class machinery systems. He holds a NZDE from Manukau Institute of Technology, specialising in mechanical engineering. Roy's education is backed by a depth of experience across mechanical design, machine building and machinery commissioning.