Automation Systems for the Present and the Future
Automation is the new frontier in manufacturing and supply chain management. But how do businesses get up to speed? Conveyco Technology is a renowned automation and efficiency systems integrator that designs and tailors automation systems to each client’s present and future needs.
With forty years of experience, and successful case studies in various industries throughout the country, Conveyco Technology has multiple offices and facilities across the Northeastern United States.
Conveyco began its life in 1979, manufacturing conveyor belts – as you might have guessed – for factories and warehouses. But the company’s mission slowly evolved, as President Ray Cocozza explains. “Over the years, what had been founded primarily as a conveyor integrator has evolved into a more full-line, fully capable integrator of conveyance solutions.
“In today’s world that means robotics, that means software, AS/RS [automated storage and retrieval systems], the full complement of technologies that you would imagine a warehouse automator would have at its fingertips.” He adds that with a wealth of new technologies becoming more available and advanced, “it’s a really interesting time to be in this industry.”
While Conveyco does offer several lines of conveyance equipment including robots, sorting systems, and conveyor belts, the leadership considers the company more of a systems integrator than a manufacturer.
Conveyco works closely with its clients – many of whom have been with the company for years, even decades – to provide individual solutions. Some companies with smaller budgets or very tight schedules might work through Conveyco’s existing product line, but “more often the not, the solutions that we craft are unique to the customer,” Cocozza says. “Even if we’ve worked in a particular industry before, it’s very dangerous to assume that one client that’s in a particular market or vertical market or business is the same as the last one you worked with.”
Step by step to success
Conveyco attributes its long track record of success to its unique, seven-step ‘RightFit’ methodology. Implemented from the start of every Conveyco/customer interaction, and relied on to guide a step-by-step process to completion, it has led to consistent positive results. “It’s about looking at the entire scope of what the customer is looking to do,” explains VP of Sales and Marketing Ed Romaine, “where their business is heading, creating the right methodology and the process to complete it.”
When Conveyco designs a system for a client, the first step is a thorough and comprehensive process review. Conveyco’s team examines the client’s entire operation, producing a wealth of documentation. As Romaine explains: “It’s really, ‘where are they today?’”
The next step is a deep data analysis, based on the operational review. Numbers reveal not only the client’s operations but define strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas for improvement. Conveyco incorporates this data into its plans for the client’s future growth.
Step three is a technological review. The company examines the client’s level of required technology, and which of Conveyco’s own technologies would best benefit it. As Romaine explains, the questions Conveyco examines with respect to the client are “What are their requirements? What will make the most sense?”
Step four is a comprehensive business case analysis based on all this. But it involves looking far beyond the client’s immediate goals, and into the future. The business case, based upon this analysis, determines Conveyco’s course of action. As Romaine says, “That has a lot to do with not only meeting all of their needs and requirements, but also looking at their capital, and at their growth and flexibility.”
The next steps are where the business case is implemented. Step five is about creating a path to holistic success. This comprehensive summation enables Conveyco to establish the logistics and resources that will be required for execution, and plan accordingly. “We lay everything out, so we know exactly where everything is going to go and when it’s going to go,” Romaine explains. “That way there’s no questions and no problems all the way through execution to success.”
Step six is, simply, the final execution of the plan. But RightFit doesn’t end there; the final seventh step requires a life cycle nexus, looking far beyond the present.
In for the long haul
As Romaine points out, the client is investing considerable time and money into this system, so Conveyco is responsible for keeping the system functioning in an optimal manner. In Romaine’s words, the questions are legion. “How do we keep the system perfect? How do we keep it at peak performance? How are we going to work year one, year two, year three?” At this point, Conveyco works unremittingly to accommodate business and inventory changes for peak performance.
This methodical and farsighted approach, developed through the experience of four decades, has largely enabled Conveyco’s consistent growth throughout those forty years. Some clients have used the company’s services for over thirty years, validating Conveyco’s program.
Romaine remarks how businesses are often too entangled with near-term solutions, and do not take into account the long-term ramifications of their decisions. When companies install systems without fully analyzing the long-term impacts on their revenue streams and business model, he concludes, “the customer has just wasted time and money on something that won’t accomplish what they really needed it to do.”
Conveyco’s approach, by contrast, establishes long-term analysis over years or even decades, as many clients return for repeat analysis. Developing deeper relationships with its clients, Conveyco brings to their business model a long-term view of how businesses evolve and change. These relationships have allowed the company to enjoy decades working with prominent clients, including Rite Aid, Crabtree & Evelyn, MBI and McLane.
Conveyco’s leadership credits this repeat business to its “long view” approach and also to its transparency. “It’s a boutique experience,” Cocozza says. “People have access to leadership, and if there’s an issue at a job site, they can reach out to myself or another member of our team. They know that if they call the highest levels of our organization, they’re going to get action, and that accessibility is something that is not common everywhere today.”
Conveyco also empowers its project management team with a great deal of autonomy and flexibility, enabling quick decisions without going through multiple management chains.
As a leader in the automation industry, Conveyco stays at the forefront of technological development in its sector, with an in-house R&D department continually designing and testing products and methods. As an example of its in-depth analysis, the team recently videotaped a new shipping system Conveyco installed for one of its clients; by reviewing the footage, they were able to solve a “dim weight” problem— issues involving the use of dimensions to calculate weight in a moving shipping system.
Conveyco is also advancing today’s robotics technology. The company is pioneering a new line of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for factory or warehouse installation. With higher autonomy than previously, these robots have the limited ability to solve pathfinding issues. If a robot encounters an obstacle such as a human worker or other object, it can take a different path as opposed to waiting in place for a human technician. This development will lessen production delays while increasing workplace safety.
Excitement meets experience
As a company on the leading edge of technology, Conveyco has attracted a steady stream of talented employees. The company’s flexible work culture, Cocozza explains, appeals to younger workers excited by the idea of working for an innovative company “where their opinions matter, where they can make an impact.” But with a significant number of employees boasting 35-plus years with the company, Conveyco also enjoys outstanding workforce retention, a true measure of its work culture and atmosphere.
Ironically, this progressive mindset has caused some unforeseen challenges. With cutting-edge technologies at its disposal, Conveyco has to tread carefully to stay at the forefront without going way beyond most customers’ understanding. “You still want to be on the edge, not off the edge,” Romaine says dryly.
To address this, Conveyco uses advanced simulation and emulation technology to accommodate all the variables before putting systems in place. With these methods, plus Conveyco’s decades of experience, the company believes it can accurately predict and eliminate problems with a far greater degree of accuracy than its competitors. Cocozza observes that many players are entering the automation field today, but “you have to be able to demonstrate it, validate it, show it, and make sure it makes good business sense.”
As it enters its 41st year, Conveyco is securely ensconced at the leading edge of automation and efficiency technology. While the company was sensibly reticent as to the nature and scope of its client base, it continues to look for greater challenges.
“We love demanding clients that push us to do better,” Cocozza says – in particular, he notes, those with similar mindsets and employee bases. “We’re blessed to have many such clients right now, and we’re helping them realize their goals. In turn, if we focus on them, we can’t help but achieve ours.”