by Gerry Schneggenburger, NWIRC

*Digital Factories 2020: Shaping the future of manufacturing, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

A survey of manufacturers shows a future 34% increase in adoption of automated inspection systems*. With the price of robots and automation significantly decreasing over the past 10 years, many small- and medium-sized NWIRC clients are either assessing such technologies or installing them. The benefits of doing so are considerable**.


  • Cost savings – Automated dimensional measurement and surface inspection systems allow for quicker recognition of quality issues and reduced costs associated with wasted product and time to remediate
  • Reduction in errors – Large production runs can gain benefit from reduced human error decreasing the need for problem resolutions efforts
  • Increased accuracy – As compared to humans, automated machine vision systems are programmed to perform a task repetitively enabling gains in accuracy, especially over an entire shift
  • Overall efficiency – Human inspectors can be used elsewhere within the business, such as planning, improving processes and design, or assisting in higher value areas
  • Reputation – Preventing substandard product from being shipped will increase your reputation as a quality supplier
  • Happy customers – Meet or even exceed customer specifications and expectations
  • Reduced re-shipping costs – Substandard product doesn’t get shipped nor require returns
  • Peace of mind – Customers come to rely on your business to deliver products that will not be disrupted by unknown quality issues


For many, the first step in assessing an automated solution is identifying not only operational speedbumps, but also qualifying them in terms of impact and costs. A good next step is to explore technology solutions, figuring where and how to start, and then identifying solid partner(s) to help, should it be required. Such steps can be daunting when operational issues are recognized. Historically, NWIRC strategic business advisors have helped manufacturers identify opportunities to increase production and productivity through the application of advanced IT technologies. With numerous digital IT specialist partners throughout northwest PA, we can assist in many ways- whether just getting started with discussions and ideas, connecting you with qualified professionals, or helping to create project plans.

* Digital Factories 2020: Shaping the future of manufacturing, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Gerry Schneggenburger has 30 years of executive business management experience with an IT foundation of systems development, programming, database administration, systems network engineering, and IT lean continuous improvement skillsets.