The Ultimate Guide to Turnkey Machines

With so many variations of what a turnkey manufacturing machine could look like, determining the right fit according to your manufacturing needs can be a challenge. Is it an industry-specific work cell? Is it a machine platform that an automated machine builder uses to tailor a solution? One thing is for certain, every product is unique, and every machine used to manufacture them needs to be sculpted to fit the specifications. In this blog, we are shedding light on what a turnkey machine should look like and what to expect.

What is a Turnkey Machine?

The Oxford dictionary defines “turnkey” as “of or involving the provision of a complete product or service that is ready for immediate use.” Investopedia defines it as “…a product or service that is designed, supplied, built, or installed fully complete and ready to operate.” Our version of “turnkey” is a complete and finished automated machine that is ready for the manufacturing floor and requires little to no additional effort or work from our customer to run. All the necessary components, systems, and services are provided by us, so the customer can simply “turn the key” to start their new automated manufacturing system.

Here are some key examples of a turnkey automated machine and what they have to offer:

  1. Fully Functional: A turnkey machine is designed and built to perform a specific task or set of tasks. It is delivered to the customer in a fully functional state, with all the necessary components and software already integrated and tested.
  2. Plug-and-Play: The basic components have already been established, decreasing the cost associated with the creation of an entire automated machine. It is typically designed for easy installation and setup with minimal additional work. At this level, customization can be a quick change to meet customer specifications.
  3. Fully Customized: Custom turnkey machines are configured to meet the customer’s specific requirements. Each component is tailor-designed for unique parts or difficult manufacturing processes. This is applicable for manufacturing processes that are not commonly automated or large-scale operations that require flexibility.
  4. Testing and Quality Assurance: These machines are pre-designed with proven successful testing and quality assurance equipment to ensure that they meet performance and safety standards.
  5. Training and Support: Suppliers of turnkey machines often provide training and support to the customer to ensure that operators can use the machine effectively and troubleshoot common issues. Clear documentation and instructions are available so that the customer has all the information they need about the machine at their fingertips.
  6. Single-Source Solution: Turnkey solutions are often provided by single-source vendors who take responsibility for the entire project, from design and manufacturing to installation and support.
The Ultimate Guide to Turnkey Machines

One Size Does Not Fit All

Custom automated machines have revolutionized manufacturing processes, allowing companies to streamline their production and increase productivity like never before. Getting to this level of competitiveness requires a significant amount of investment, with half the battle being placed on deciding which process to automate and how to do it. Turnkey machines are an attractive choice because the exhaustion from allocating resources to develop, build, and implement an automated machine option is nearly eliminated.

Turnkey solutions are built on machine platforms that are pre-designed based on successful systems. The wonderful thing about working with a custom automated machine partner who can provide turnkey options is these platforms can be modified if customer specifications exceed the design. Rather than starting from scratch and unnecessarily reinventing the wheel, these are the foundation blocks that a custom solution is built on.

The advantage of a turnkey solution is that it can save the customer time and effort in getting the automated machine up and running. It may come at a high initial cost but it’s a suitable choice to help solve manufacturing complications and boost competitiveness.

What Can Be Integrated Into These Machines?

Unique integrations for unique processes – the amount of equipment that can be integrated into turnkey automated machines is virtually limitless. The way in which this equipment is used can be quite innovative as well. What kinds of equipment can be integrated?

  • CNC equipment (welding, stamping, deburring, forming, cutting, and more)
  • Specialized parts feeding systems
  • Robots of all sizes and models
  • Testing and inspection equipment
  • Parts handling systems
  • Parts marking systems
  • Ventilation equipment

…and so much more.

It is crucial for an experienced automation provider or integrator to step in and help develop accurate and realistic expectations for machine performance and function. The development process typically involves close collaboration between the client and the automation provider. The provider will gather information about the process that needs automating by visiting the client’s facility or conducting virtual meetings. They will analyze various factors such as production volume, cycle time requirements, space limitations, safety regulations, budget constraints, and any unique challenges specific to their industry.

Based on this thorough understanding of requirements and constraints, the automation provider will then design a solution that meets all necessary criteria while maximizing efficiency, effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness. Every detail from mechanical components to electrical systems, pneumatics, to software programming will be considered during this specification development phase.

The goal is always to create custom machines that are tailored precisely for each individual client’s needs. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel for the best solution – it often starts with clear communication to develop a strong and transparent plan. This provides the building blocks to develop the rest.

Q: What happens when the project is complicated? How do you still deliver a turnkey solution?

A: Technology is constantly evolving. Manufacturing operations that have been nearly impossible or considerably difficult to automate in the past are now within reach. This is a huge advantage to manufacturers who are looking to stake their competitive position in their industry. When addressing a complicated process in need of updating, the options of how to automate are expanding, making turnkey machines a valuable investment. This also sets the standard for future processes and systems that need updating or automating. This new investment provides the baseline to project future operations.

Below is a recent case study on a machine that required several integrations and a highly specialized design to fit customer specifications.

There is always a risk that the project may get more complicated than initially anticipated. This can happen due to various factors such as changes in specifications, unforeseen technical challenges, or even miscommunication between the client and the manufacturer. In such situations, it is crucial to have a strong partnership with your automation provider. A reputable turnkey automation company will work closely with you throughout the entire process, from initial concept development to final installation and support. They will have experienced engineers and technicians who can adapt quickly to any unexpected hurdles that may arise.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your automation provider if you encounter any difficulties or if there are changes in requirements along the way. Each project requires a cohesive team of skilled engineers, machine builders, electricians, and management to deliver the best possible solution. A good machine partner will be responsive and willing to collaborate with you on finding solutions.

SDC Turnkey Machines – How We Can Help

Our custom automated equipment is designed, built, tested, delivered, installed, and supported by our highly skilled and experienced team. Right from the start, our project managers create the framework and establish a clear line of communication between us and our customer. Together, we get to work on developing the best turnkey solution. From assembly machines to testing and inspection systems, we have the knowledge to know what works, the most robust way to build it, and how to provide a successful machine so that all you do after installation is turn a key and go. In other words, we help simplify the automation journey, getting you closer to your manufacturing goals. See if an automated turnkey machine is right for you.