The first inline laser gauges (from the 1960s) cost $1M, required a full-time employee to operate, and exposed users to hazardous radiation.
Today's gauges cost less than 10% of the original designs and can be installed in just a few hours. Plus they're fully automatic – with the ability self-calibrate – and completely safe. And they save manufacturers millions by reducing lead scrap.
But despite these advancements, we still see many lines without inline gauging systems. Are manufacturers just ignoring the clear financial benefits?
Not quite. The real reason is that battery plants just have so many processes to deal with ... Which means inline gauging takes a backseat to other priorities.
Making a battery consists of several complex steps. To give you an example, the process starts with producing lead strip via their own rolling mills. Now, there are entire facilities, like steel mills, that are designed just to carry out this one process. But battery plants have to make strips – with high precision – as a starting point.
Because battery manufacturing involves so many steps, each individual step is less optimized than it could be. Manufacturers don't have the internal engineering capacity to optimize everything. As a result, they do their level best to run an efficient "steel mill" as just one business unit within a whole sequence of processes.
But no matter how good the team is, they invariably come to rely on external subject matter experts to streamline specialized processes.
The other options are to A) do nothing (hey, it's worked OK before, so why make changes?) or B) hire more internal resources. But when budgets are tight and doing nothing isn't acceptable, turning to external experts is the only real option.
The truth is manufacturers that rely on external partners to provide the latest technology will reap the greatest benefits.
Their challenge is to look beyond the latest crisis ... to set up their lines for continued success through the collection of data, better accuracy, and, as a result, higher quality.
There's never a perfect time to make this kind of change. Resources will always be constrained. But that's why technology providers like Co-efficient work really hard to minimize installation time and maximize uptime by thoroughly testing all equipment before shipping it out and providing continual engineering support.
As with any meaningful change, the BIG results come in the long term. But that doesn't mean you have to go through pain in the short term. With our in-line laser gauging systems, you can have the best of both worlds: Short-term wins through more accurate measurements combined with long-term process improvements that will take you to a new quality plateau.
That means saying goodbye to non-conforming plates that aren't discovered until later down the line.
The alternative is to rely on the status quo ... Which might seem like a safe move, but is actually a big risk. Failing to act means missing out on the opportunity to drastically reduce lead scrap and boost plate quality.
The bottom line is this: in today's increasingly competitive business environment, avoiding change is the biggest risk you can take. So if you're ready to make a change, we're here to help make it happen.