Happy Retirement Wendy!

Our steadfast and diligent administrator is finally off the clock. This month we are saying good-bye to an instrumental member of TCA’s staff; someone who played a crucial roll in our company’s history. Wendy started with TCA almost 16 years ago. When she joined us, we were experiencing rapid corporate growth – and all of the growing pains that come with it. Many of our internal processes weren’t designed for scale and she happily jumped into the chaos. Wendy helped develop and streamline our internal structure with a laser focus on our customers’ needs.

Though Wendy’s work over the past 16 years has been exemplary, her strength of character remains her legacy. One of TCA’s most talked about corporate value is integrity. Our President Dave Nelson, refers to integrity as making the right decision, even when it is hard to make. Wendy’s character is integrity personified. She could always be counted on to do the right thing, regardless of the extra work, complication, or friction it may cause. With an attention to detail that is almost super human, Wendy easily navigated and organized complicated corporate contracts, maintaining customer records and ensuring a level of accuracy that could always be counted on. While her work skills are undisputed, Wendy was also a genuine, kind, and trustworthy friend to many. She was momma-bear to our sales team, working diligently to simply make their lives easier.

When such a tenured and respected member of the team retires, it is always bittersweet. Everyone here will greatly miss her, but she leaves a legacy behind she can be proud of.

Enjoy your travel and your gardens Wendy-loo!

Automation is the thing of the future, but what does that mean for future careers?

Over the past few years, industry has been buzzing with talk about IIoT, automation replacing workers, and how machine learning and AI are the next big thing. A few weeks ago, IBM held a debate where their ‘Project Debater’ competed against a human professional. While the robot was not deemed the winner, it did showcase the robots’ ability to rapidly respond and pivot argument points based on the other person’s interaction. It was a lively and visual representation of what the future of artificial intelligence will look like. The world is now beginning to realize that AI implementation and mass availability aren’t too far off. For those thinking about the job market in the coming decades, we have to wonder: what future jobs are going to be available for the next generation?

While no one can know for sure, just looking at recent industry changes gives some foresight. A prime example is McDonalds; they’ve been a big provider of part time casual labour jobs. Recently they’ve adopted a self serve kiosk where customers are able to order and pay for themselves. The number of front line staff at the counter has greatly decreased. This is one example where simple and repeatable jobs are being replaced by technology. Does that mean that the restaurant industry will be fully automated – of course not. But it is indicative of the types of jobs that robotics and machines are prime to replace humans. Robots never take breaks, rarely act illogically, and don’t get distracted. This makes them perfect to take over the menial tasks that most humans don’t want to do.

The other side of this argument that many forget to talk about is the robot’s themselves! There is a complete industry in place that designs, builds, and programs these machines. For every single machine out in the field replacing menial tasks, a whole team of people have been involved to teach that robot the tasks it’s performing, design recovery procedures, and test to make sure they’re behaving as expected. Like every other machine, robots are not infallible. A complete service industry of field experts is in place to diagnose and repair these machines should a failure happen.

So while many worry that robots are going to replace workers and steal jobs, I would argue that they in fact are generating a much larger sub industry. Let’s let the robots do the job’s that no one wants to, and put our efforts into learning the complicated task of learning what makes these intricate systems work.

The careers of the future lay, as we’ve always believed, in the robotic and automation industry.

Introducing our new Director of Operations: Chris Draper

We are very pleased to announce our newly minted Director of Operations and Project Management: Chris Draper.

Chris joined our organization back in October 2017, responsible for bringing a formalized Project Management structure to TCA. His understanding of our customers needs has allowed us to remain nimble with our innovating designs, while adapting to changing needs within the industry.  His background within machining and design gives him a unique ability to make creative choices in order to meet our customer’s needs.

In his new role, Chris will be responsible for maintaining the exceptional quality of machines that customers have grown accustomed to from TCA. He will ensure that customers timelines and standards are met while making sure that the floor remains a fun and exciting place to work.

We’re excited to have Chris in our Leadership team, and look forward to his success.

 

TCA’s 2018 Christmas Luncheon

Every year TCA begins the holiday season by celebrating and giving thanks to the people who work so hard for our customers. This year, we gathered to eat and have some fun at the Aberfoyle Mill.

We began our luncheon with some fun raffle prizes, a game of Truths and a Lie, and Kahoot. We were also able to include some of the TCA family who were out at customer sites, via Skype.

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To get into the spirit, we held a photo contest where departments competed in creating an original Christmas Photo. Second place, a prize of team coffee and donuts, went to the Controls Department.

With our first place – grand prize, an all expense paid Pizza Party, going to the Machine Shop.

We finished our lunch off with a White Elephant Gift Exchange, where our VP of Finance was thwarted from owning a drone, for the second year.

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While TCA loves to give back to our employees, those workers also love to giving back to the community.  This year, we chose The Salvation Army Toy Drive. Everyone is pleased to be able make children’s Christmas morning a little more special.

Merry Christmas from TCA Technologies!

Annual TCA Sushi Championship

In late November, worthy TCA competitors responded to the call to arms –  ready to attend the Annual Sushi Championship. With nothing more at stake than honour, the competitors gathered to devour. Sadly, the competitor voted most likely to win found himself hampered by a cold. In surprise, a latecomer rose to the occasion and came close to winning it all. In the end, the coveted belt went to the mighty Mike. His slow and steady approach beat out the fast flurry of the piranha’s.

Check out some pictures of our event.

The Risk of Choosing the Lowest Bid

We’re obsessed with price. Price seems to have become the single most important determinant in most purchases, with retailers offering to match each others’ price in a rush to the bottom. Similarly, price within the business-to-business marketplace has assumed an all-important position.  Given the realities of global competition, an emphasis on price at all levels of the business cycle is not only understandable, it is essential.  However, have we followed the historic human tendency and ‘carried it too far’?  How important is price; really?

Let’s admit right up front that price is important. When we compare competing proposals it’s a vital consideration, but what do you risk when it’s the only consideration?

When the cost of something becomes detached from the overall value proposition, it becomes the singular focus. Price is an honest measurement only when balanced against other factors.

Does price reflect quality?

When comparing the submitted proposals, is there a baseline quality that is presumed? Will some sacrifice the quality of material or design in order to achieve the desired price? When machine robustness, longevity, and ergonomics are important factors, sometimes it doesn’t pay to go cheap.

For every project within the manufacturing world, organizations are under a pressure cooker of dates, budgets and stringent quality controls.  Buyers run the risk of adversely affecting subsequent expenditures on maintenance, labour requirements, or the ability to sustain production if the initial investment was undercut. When equipment providers refuse to sacrifice quality to win the work, we protect our ability to provide sustained satisfaction for consumers in the long term.

Building more than custom automated machinery

Since equipment providers know we will be competing in the world of tight margins, we need to ask ourselves: Who are we selling to?  Does our customer truly understand the automated machinery world? Will they not only support their product but support our production personnel; or, are they responding to a price-only purchasing approach by providing minimal support?  A relationship with your customer is symbiotic, and in the end is most successful when common goals and best intentions are paramount.

We all know that there are substantial benefits to price competition.  Price competition drives efficiency.  Price competition drives innovation.  But does price justify our obsession with it?  A less than thoughtful response will cost us in the long run.

Industry 4.0 Explained

What’s in a name?

The term Industry 4.0 has been increasingly gaining popularity in the manufacturing world over the past few years. But what does it mean?  Simply, it is the emergence of digital manufacturing.

The digitization of manufacturing has drastically changed the way that products are produced. Referred to as Industry 4.0, it represents the 4th industrial revolution that has occurred in manufacturing. The first industrial revolution began in the 1790’s when power was harnessed through water and steam. The second came in the form of electrical powered mass production using assembly lines in the 1870’s. The adoption of digital technology in the 1960’s started the third industrial revolution, and the fourth continues this trend. The 2000’s started the next phase in manufacturing by focusing on automation and data exchange – highlighting cloud computing, machine interconnectivity, autonomous systems, and machine learning.

Image credit: Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com

Often dismissed as marketing buzzwords, Industry 4.0 has begun to make headwind with inarguable leaps in manufacturing technologies in this past decade. Advancements between the 1st and 2nd are clear and easily defined with marked leaps in technologies. But what makes the 4th industrial revolution different from the 3rd? The differences can be explained by advancements in connectivity, computing power, and automation.

What does Industry 4.0 bring to manufacturers?

Proactive Responses – connected machines give companies tremendous volumes of information in order to analyze data, recognize patterns, and identify opportunities. This allows manufacturers to optimize operations by knowing exactly what area of their business required the most immediate attention.

Supply Chain – up to the minute information of variables, which include weather, traffic patterns, etc., give manufacturers the ability to connect their systems. Production priorities can be consistently adjusted given the influx of data to accommodate these changes.

Autonomous Equipment – from logistics to material handling, the emergence of autonomous vehicles redistributes the labour force and opens up a whole possibility for the future of production operations.

Robots – considerably more economically priced than in the past, more manufacturers have the opportunity to add robotics into their production facilities.

3D Printing – while still in its infancy, 3D printing will continue to give manufacturers new way of producing goods.

Cloud Computing – connected devices allow for production facilities to produce goods in a connected, informative, and intuitive manner. Management can now leverage the insights provided from the aggregated data, and optimize their operations to be as efficient as possible.

Want to learn how your facility could benefit from advanced IIOT technologies? Contact us today to learn more.

Source: Forbes

Building More than Custom Automated Equipment

At TCA we are dedicated to going above and beyond to help our customers succeed. We’re expert problem solvers, and understand that our value to customers goes beyond the delivery of new automated equipment. Over the years we have developed a multi-level approach to customer service that has enabled us to be a knowledgeable, accessible, and valuable resource to our valued customers.

Here’s how we can help:

Customer Support

First and foremost, we make ourselves available to customers. We have 24/7 phone support that is answered by knowledgeable and skilled technicians who will help solve your problem. Support is available in a variety of languages should you need it. We also have a number of our skilled technicians who are ready to travel to our customers’ facilities immediately. Our service team will travel anywhere in the world; if you urgently need us, we will respond.

Product Support

Every system we manufacture comes with the promise of support from TCA. Through extended system warranties, replacement parts or spare parts, TCA ensures your system is well maintained. In addition to our onsite customer support, we offer remote support systems for rapid troubleshooting. A remote connection device is available for the systems we build, allowing us to log in remotely to your system. This way we can either resolve the problem remotely or guide you to do it yourself.

Production Support

We understand that keeping equipment in production is critical to our customers’ success. That is why we provide a full preventative maintenance program to ensure the equipment is running optimally. Should they wish it, we can provide comprehensive training and documentation so customers can perform the preventative maintenance themselves.  In order to extend the lifetime of your automation equipment, we also offer equipment refurbishment and retooling.

If requested, we can assist in speeding our customers’ products to market by providing limited production, allowing the products to be qualified and marketed as early as possible.

At TCA we build more than custom automated equipment, we build relationships with our customers. Contact us today at 519-824-8711 to learn more about our world-class service and support.

We’re Hiring!

Thinking of making a change? We’re looking for new talent to join our team.

TCA is hiring multiple positions at our Puslinch facility – check out the job descriptions below and apply at careers@tcatech.com.

Intermediate and Senior Controls Engineer

This highly motivated individual is responsible for creating electrical drawings and designing controls for custom automated solutions.

Read more about the position here.

Applications Engineer

Responsible for actively driving and managing the concepting stage of the sales process, this highly skilled individual works as the key technical adviser for our customers.  If you want to be a product advocate identifying and providing reliable solutions for all technical issues, this may just be the role for you.

Read more about the position here.

Senior Project Manager

This engaged individual must be highly organized and have a passion for working collaboratively with technical teams. Responsible for fully managing the project, this person will be the customers go-to guy for up-to-the minute information on their projects.

Read more about the position here.

Electrician

We’re looking for a licensed electrician with a keen eye for detail and general love for the job. This person will be responsible for wiring, panel building,  and commissioning of automated equipment.

Read more about the position here.

Machine Builder

This position requires someone who loves the challenge of putting together complex equipment. Our machine builders work closely with out technical team to fit, assemble, and debug technically advanced machinery.

Read more about the position here.

Are these not the right fit, but you’re still interested in TCA Tech?

Even if we don’t have a posted vacancy, we still urge you to submit your resume! We are always interested in talking to great people with specific skill-sets.

Other positions we typically are looking for:

  • Mechanical Designers
  • CNC Machinists

Send your resumes to our Human Resources Department at careers@tcatech.com

 

The Question: To Retrofit or Rebuild

blog_retrofit

It’s a question we get all the time: should you retrofit your equipment or rebuild? Each time a customer confronts us with this question we examine the situation with one particular thought in mind: how do we best help customers conserve capital.

In order to find the best balance of costs, we try to determine the comparison of initial cost versus downstream efficiencies.  Simply, what’s going to cost our customers less in the long run.

Retrofitting Existing Equipment

Many times a customer will come to us needing to add a new part type to a production line or want to improve certain tasks in a process. Often, TCA can find a solution to upgrade tooling or certain components to minimize cost output. This typically works best for customers who have a product with a limited product life cycle or when the line that is being upgraded was built with modern design and programming principles.

Choosing to Build

Depending on the production environment, it may be cheaper for customers to redesign the equipment. By rebuilding the equipment, customers can typically resolve inefficiencies that they currently face. Customers likely will target reducing cycle time, eliminating operator input, reducing scrap, and improving future flexibility of the line.

When our customers come to us with this challenge, we examine all solutions available to try and give them the best overall picture of their options. If conserving capital today means continuously higher operations costs, we can examine how long it will take for a rebuild to pay for itself.

At the end of the day, the best solution is one where TCA can help customers achieve their wanted outcome at the best possible price. Contact us today to learn more about the options available to you.

Email: info@tcatech.com
Phone: 1.519.824.8711