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Getting Started with Custom Warehouse Automation Solutions Development

Drake Sayre | 18 November 2021

Sometimes situations require one-of-a-kind solutions. Performing tasks in a cold storage environment and need to add reliable automated machinery? Conveying non-standard dimension cartons or unwieldly products? Supporting a propriety set of processes or working to achieve a specific business objective that standard equipment can’t attain?

Quite frankly, there are numerous ways to solve manufacturing, material handling or distribution center complexities. You can explore different machine configurations, employ different technologies from various brands, as well as special, custom modifications to either the system design or minute machine details.

Unique challenges invite opportunities for custom automation solutions – custom design and engineering. So, how does the process work? We meet you at your current state and lead you through our development process based on your custom needs.

Material Handling Process Ideation and Design

Machine or system ideation and design can be as involved as needed and picks up wherever you are in the process. You may have a concept and equipment specifications validated or you may need support in outlining a solution for a specific process or outcome.

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If we’re at a very raw, initial stage we work with you to:

  • Confirm objectives
  • Confirm the product or material handling process
  • Review necessary variables (for example, facility space, task sequence and product details)
  • Confirm feasibility with the process environment (for example, extreme or harsh conditions)

A lot of time and focus is dedicated to this part of the process and we’ll help you determine if more engineering is needed to validate the concept or identify alternative solutions. This may include creating simulations of specific portions of the system design, finite element analysis for projects that have large structural loads or precise handling requirements, for example.

Once confirmed, manufacturing design prints are created for a final design packet.

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Automation Equipment Manufacturing and Assembly

With completed design packets, our manufacturing team can get started to bring the solution to life. Using state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques and strict quality control metrics, our wide variety of capabilities means we can support in welding, machining, powder coating and more. This includes any subcomponents that may go into the overall piece of equipment. 

Dependent on the project needs, our team can help perform the final assembly. They’ll verify the fit and function of the mechanical equipment.

Custom Solution Testing and Commissioning

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An optional step in post-assembly custom automation design is Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT). At this point, we’ll verify that the components and controls (if requested) function as required by the project plans. We can use sample products to test the process and address any need for final adjustments. Once validated to expectations, the equipment can be packaged and sent on its way. Some customers with full turnkey projects benefit from on-site installation and field commissioning. This means mechanical and electrical setup with post-installation support.

Custom Designed and Engineered Solutions

In any scenario, to provide the best possible solution, a lot of work is put up front to understand the variables, unknowns and plans of attack. No matter what stage you’re in – developing an engineering concept, engineering design, manufacturing, assembly, testing, or installing the parts or whole solution – we leverage our team’s experience in mechanical manufacturing, controls engineering, and pull from our company’s vast industry knowledge.

When we engineer or fabricate custom material handling equipment, we keep our eyes on the big picture while also focusing  the necessary details to ensure you have a solution that meets your needs. If you are ready to talk about your automation needs, reach out and talk to a solutions expert today.

Author: Drake Sayre

Drake Sayre is an Application Engineer at Bastian Solutions in the custom automation division. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. 

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