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AGR Automation: A data driven innovation story

How AGR Automation uses data to analyse every aspect of its business

This Arbroath-based manufacturing company, a leading designer and manufacturer of high speed automated machinery, is adopting data driven innovation to inform all decisions across its business to ensure maximum return.

AGR - the Scottish company that's doing data right 

Proud to be part of the Scottish economy, AGR is a Scottish company that understands the importance of data in business development. For it's data driven innovation, alongside manufacturing innovation, that's proven crucial to the company's success.

"It's a competitive world out there and there's no free lunch," says Derek Gaston, managing director.

"Our investment decisions in people, in premises, in opportunities are all driven by a good analysis and knowledge of what our resources are and what opportunities are open to us."

Lower costs, improved productivity

For AGR it's about seeking out data that supports the achievements of your business objectives.

It's the clarity of purpose that helps you get the best out of the data available to you. And if you're not analysing data you could be going in the wrong direction. 

The biggest benefit of integrating data into any business is cost reduction.

If you've got the right data you make the right decisions and that hits the bottom line. The right data will allow you to put in place corrective actions that will increase yield, productivity and quality.

Use of data in design and automated production 

Before even starting to design a new machine to automate a process, AGR needs to capture all of the data relevant to the end product that the machine will produce. This client-data sets the parameters and tolerances that the machine needs to work to.

By bringing together their skills in software, mechanical and electrical engineering, they were able to develop the world’s first machine that can automatically manufacture heart stents.

However, not only do AGR depend on data to inform the design and manufacture of their products.  In the case of this machine, the company also collects vast amounts of data associated with the production of the stents.

This is hugely beneficial to AGR in relation to being able to measure and monitor OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) but it's also vital to their client, in being able to track all aspects of production.

Such a process, running 24/7, generates vast quantities of data and this data can be captured and fed directly into the client’s MES (Manufacturing Execution System).

This enables quality control and traceability of the materials used in the manufacture of a particular medical device on which a patient health and wellbeing may depend.

Derek explains: "The data collection system we use sees that we collect all the details of every gluing function, every temperature and every length. And we have to record that data and output that data for future reference and quality control.

"Gone are the days a machine just made the product. Self-testing has to validate the product at every stage through the process."

If you're not analysing data you could be going in the wrong direction.

Craig Dickson, general manager, AGR Automation


How data helps Scottish companies grow in a sustainable way

Companies with data are companies with history. And if you've got history you can analyse it and understand what's been achieved and identify weaknesses that can be addressed. Then you can re-analyse the new data and see if the actions you took delivered the improvements you were looking for.

That's why a data-driven strategy and plan is vital, because you don't just look at data once and say job done. You have to continually analyse what's coming from your data insights that are looking at your performance in every aspect of your business.

AGR Automation has specialists across tech and data, including data analysts, software engineers, electrical and mechanical specialists, who facilitate the company's analysis. But different companies need different data support. The most important thing is to start using data to inform decisions then you can evolve your data strategy as you progress so that you stay market competitive. 

Scotland's data community is knowledgeable and welcoming and there to help drive data innovation in Scotland. From specific data events to data analyst intern options for businesses the data driven innovation opportunity is open to all.

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