In his own words: Shawn Dailey, Automation Engineer, Plastikos, Inc

What or who fueled your interest in manufacturing?

I had always been interested in building things from an early age.  I worked a part time position for eight years at Signal-Tech, an electronic sign manufacturing company in Erie, PA.  While working at Signal-Tech I was exposed to many different roles in manufacturing and found it to be a very innovative and rewarding pathway to pursue.

What is your current role in manufacturing?

Currently I am an Automation Engineer in the injection molding industry.  My role in the company is to develop custom equipment to facilitate production as well as secondary operations.  The machine development process consists primarily of the following.

  • Machine Design
    • 3D Solid Modeling (CAD) of mechanical systems
    • 2D modeling (CAD) of electrical systems
  • Machine building
    • Assembly of mechanical systems
    • Electrical control panel building and wiring
    • Electrical and mechanical component integration
  • Machine Programming
    • PLC programming (Programmable Logic Controller) The PLC serves as the brain of the machine and controls all functions of the machine.
    • HMI programming (Human Machine Interface) The HMI is the graphical interface that the user can interact with to control machine functions.
  • Systems Integration
    • Often, a machine is not a stand-alone piece of equipment and must communicate with other machines or processes. This is where the machine gets installed to facilitate the manufacturing process and becomes a cohesive part of the facilities automation architecture.

Describe your path to get to where you are today.

I went to Penn State Behrend for MET (Mechanical Engineering Technology) where I took a senior elective in automation.  I then worked with an injection molder as an Automation Tech to fulfil credits for a senior design project.  After graduating from Penn State, I continued to work within various manufacturing environments designing and building custom automation equipment.  I obtained my current role in the company by a current Plastikos employee’s referral.  I had developed several professional contacts during my internship that I had continued to stay in touch with.  One of these contacts reached out to me when Plastikos was looking to add an additional Automation Engineer.

What is your Superpower?

When designing new equipment, I like to look beyond the current scope of work.  Even though our development efforts may be to complete a specific task I like to try to anticipate and prepare for all the future unknowns.  It’s only a matter of time before someone requests for the machine to perform a new task or have upgraded features.  All these unknowns should be considered in the initial design so that the machine can be as flexible and future-proof as possible.

Why is your role important to others – like to customers or end users?

I believe my role in manufacturing (Industrial Automation) is important because when implemented effectively it can have the following positive impacts on the company: reduce facility operating costs, increase product throughput, increased product quality and transition employees from performing repetitive tasks to obtaining skilled positions within manufacturing.

What do you think the future holds for your career or others you inspire?

My goal is to continuously grow our automation department and to be a project technical lead. As we hire additional employees, we will be able to take on larger scale and more complex projects. I feel that my career as well as others joining this industry all have an extremely promising future. Having the ability to manufacture with the highest quality, while keeping costs down, is essential if we want to stay competitive in the marketplace. Automation in manufacturing is just one of many ways to help companies become more successful.