How will companies accelerate quality manufacturing in 2023? An interview with Scott Blake

“Achieving the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) for laser projection” is how Aligned Vision president Scott Blake summarizes what he and the Aligned Vision team heard from you throughout 2022. At trade shows, customer visits and other venues, we listened to what you had to share about your experience with laser projection, automatic inspection and other digital quality technologies. Our goal in 2023 is to help you address those aspects of your quality monitoring efforts that most concern you. So we asked Scott to explain what we heard from you – and what we’re doing in response.

What were the main messages you heard in 2022?

SB: We heard two common themes from the folks who talked to us. One is a frustration with the ongoing costs of their laser projection systems. Projectors from some vendors seem to require constant attention and TLC. And each time you call them, it comes with a price tag. Each and every time. Worse yet, these vendors are known to orphan older systems, which means their customers have to buy all new equipment periodically. We just won’t do that to our customers.

The other theme is how surprised folks are about our productivity features. When we ask about multitasking, for example, many users say their projectors have it – but they don’t use it. Our multitasking is so flexible and easy to use, our customers do use it. Likewise, our full-function touchscreen remote controls and process control capabilities increase the amount of value-added time you get from our systems. Your operators stay at the tool adding value. With all our features, our systems meet user needs with the least equipment.

In what ways is ‘lowest total cost of ownership for laser projection’ a summary of what you have heard from the industry?

SB: Add up the initial cost of all the controllers and projectors and seats of software you need for a total solution, plus all the maintenance and service fees you are charged each year, plus the cost of non-value added time, plus any cost of orphaned systems, plus a few other factors, and you’ve got total cost of ownership. The frustration and surprise we heard from you both speak to TCO. The lifetime value of your laser projection system comes down to two questions: How much are you spending on the laser projection over the life of the system? And how much faster and more accurate are your floor operators and manufacturing processes because of it?

How have laser projection ownership models evolved for 2023?

SB: The old ownership model starts with a major investment for all the capital equipment you need to outfit your shop floor, and it is followed by major annual expenses for software, vendor support calls, maintenance and repair.

New models account for the impact of Industry 4.0, which will eventually connect all phases of your product development and manufacturing. These digital connections let you do more with less. Laser projection and automatic inspection are very much a part of factory digitalization. So the new ownership models enable you to do more with less on an ongoing basis, as digital technologies become more powerful.

‘Doing more with less’ is a very common goal. What does it mean in the context of laser projection TCO?

SB: We evolve our systems to address the pain points manufacturers experience as they digitalize. For example, we built our new ALIGN 4.0 software from the ground up for Industry 4.0, and it gives manufacturers the ability to achieve new efficiencies through greater connectivity with other digital systems and devices. Any LASERGUIDE2 owner can upgrade to ALIGN 4.0 without buying a whole new projector or committing to new annual fees. In this way, our systems are future-proof. So these owners do more with their existing systems without new major expenses, and this lowers the total cost of ownership.

How does Aligned Vision plan to meet manufacturers’ new needs and expectations for 2023?

SB: Our business philosophy has always been characterized by collaboration. We listen. We help our customers identify hidden costs and opportunities to improve your operations. Then we get to work, adding features and capabilities to our systems that eliminate costs, raise efficiencies and improve quality. Finally, we enable you to upgrade your Aligned Vision solution – selling you only the upgrade you need, not the extras or whole new systems you don’t.

Industry 4.0 may change the very nature of your hidden costs and improvement opportunities. We are excited to see what 2023 brings to our customers, and we will continue to bring the same spirit of collaboration, helping you to accelerate your quality manufacturing efforts into the new year.