Author: Kaon Auotmation

KAON’s secrets to engineering the perfect team

As teams are made of individuals with personalities, habits and points of view that don’t always align, the process of building one can be a challenge.

As one of the country’s fastest-growing engineering firms, we at KAON know all about building a team and ensuring that we work as individuals – and a cohesive unit.

We place fun at the centre of our team-building approach by hosting walks, tag rugby events, barbecues, parties, and other gatherings that keep employees connected, healthy and engaged.

In recent years KAON has doubled its workforce across two bases in both Cork and Sligo where we produce machines for the medical device, automotive, electronics and consumer goods industries – no easy feat given recent disruptions to the supply chain and widespread issues with the recruitment and retention of staff.

KAON believes engineering is the perfect metaphor for team building.

Many of the company’s projects focus on taking an array of disparate elements and making them work in harmony to achieve a goal. Teams are no different, with engineers offering insights informed by their own skills and unique backgrounds. Difference is their strength. This is what makes taking a project from concept to completion so exciting and rewarding for KAON.

When KAON staff aren’t fostering team spirit, they’re putting the benefits to good use on complex project work. Building machinery draws on all the essential elements that make up engineering expertise, including creativity and problem solving, a professional challenge that underpins the company’s high levels of job satisfaction.

One staff member recently revealed that the most rewarding aspects of their role included being involved with projects, peer-to-peer learning, and seeing feedback influence the actions of their superiors. This reinforces the key message for KAON staff: every staff member has a purpose and is valued.

KAON is always looking for new engineers to join its passionate team.

Click here to Apply Now

ATU Sligo Open Day at KAON Automation

KAON was buzzing with excitement a few weeks ago as we welcomed more than 30 students from ATU Sligo to our facility at Collooney.

The Open Day for third and four-year engineering students, which took place on Friday October 21st, was the university’s first visit to our Sligo facility since the formation of Atlantic Technological University (ATU).

When they arrived on site, the students were given an overview of KAON by Aaron O’Hare, one of our Project Engineers, and Ihno Fehrendt, who is a Graduate Mechanical Design Engineer.  They explained KAON’s processes and high standards, as well as procurement and the various post-pandemic challenges.

Students were given an insight into the machines KAON produce and how what we create helps people – another rewarding aspect of life at KAON.

Our team delivered an informative presentation that took the students through the product life cycle, from concept to delivery, while also touching on the importance of post-purchase customer feedback stages.

The students had a range of questions in the follow-up Q&A segment which kept Aaron and Ihno on their toes. The questions varied from topics like roles at KAON and career paths to product materials, procurement, and project turnaround times.

Afterwards, the discussion was followed up with a tour of the workshop, highlighting and demonstrating our various MedTech machines. On the tour, ATU’s students were given demonstrations of each machine as well as breakdowns of product design specifics.

It was a pleasure to see so many budding engineers at our facilities and we hope that someday they will be working their way through the ranks at KAON as we strive to deliver innovative and scalable automation solutions for leading manufacturing companies globally.

We hope to see some more aspiring engineers move through the ranks at KAON Automation in the future. If you’d like to learn more about KAON careers, visit our careers portal.

Careers Portal

“Work must be fun”, says Kieran Regan, KAON’s new Operations Manager

For some time now, we have been aware that KAON Automation had reached a stage of growth where we required an Operations Manager to help us to streamline our operations. We also knew that person had to be a fit with the positive, challenging work environment at KAON. So, in order to build our future, we reached out to our past.

Kieran Regan became Operations Manager at KAON in February 2022, having previously worked with KAON co-founders Garreth Finlay and Fergus Hynes in an automation company at the outset of all their careers.

Indeed, when they parted company it was for Garreth and Fergus to set up Automation Technology Services, which has since evolved into KAON, and for Kieran to join automotive manufacturing company MCI in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, where he gave Garreth and Fergus their first commission in their new company.

Kieran soon became Engineering Manager with MCI and stayed with them for 20 years, before KAON came calling. “MCI was a super company to work for, and I had a great relationship with everyone there,” he says. “But I was in a role I knew very well and felt that I was missing a challenge, even though I loved the company.”

Essentially, Kieran wanted to get into a pure engineering role rather than a manufacturing engineering role. “I wanted an operations engineering role with a lot more detail within the engineering process from design right through to completion and across the organisation,” he says. “I wanted to feel what that was like again and to be part of a company that was really growing. The excitement of the challenge was clearly there.”

While Kieran says that leaving MCI was one of the most difficult decisions he ever made, he is clear that it was the right decision for him. “The environment at KAON is exciting and challenging every day. I’ve had to relearn a language that I knew in the past. The language we use in largescale manufacturing is different than the language that is used in bespoke engineering production. This job is probably more challenging on a technical level, but that’s what I knew I was looking for,” he says.

“There was a level of creativity in my previous job from a continuous improvement perspective, but there is an essential requirement for creativity in the KAON process. It’s an engineering company at its core, so it’s creative by nature within the organisation. That’s what I love. It’s a positive, challenging atmosphere, and you see the process from birth, from creativity in design right through to the build coming to life and meeting customer expectations with success.”

Six months into his new role, Kieran is in the process of streamlining KAON operations.  “The challenges I face would be around trying to streamline from a project management point of view the interactions between significant departments like electrical and mechanical design, and then when the design is complete, into the procurement phase, and then timing the procurement of components to the build phase of a project. The challenge of sequencing that with the constraints within material supply due to global supply chain issues is really significant but must be managed if we are to bring the business to the next level,” he says.

“It’s challenging, but it’s enjoyable. Above all else, work must be fun. It needs to be a supportive yet challenging environment. It’s got to be enjoyable, and it is at KAON.”

We currently have open positions across all disciplines for talented, motivated engineers in Sligo and Cork, so get in touch today if you are interested in working on the frontiers of what is possible in automation.

Creative thinking is helping us manage global supply chain issues

Creative thinking is helping us manage global supply chain issues

There are always challenges in complex engineering projects, but the challenge of not being able to acquire the components you need to build a manufacturing machine due to global supply chain issues is relatively new. At KAON, it has required us to think creatively about how we manage sourcing quality components while delivering our projects to the standards expected by our clients.

One thing we are doing is accepting a different level of inventory for key, sometimes high-value, components. We now hold items in stock that we didn’t like to see sitting on a shelf before, even if they have a six-month or a year-long lead time before being needed.

There is a risk involved in this, but where we know we are likely to use them in future projects, we need to know that we have them in stock. So, we’ve had to review what we considered commodities and consumable parts, and we’ve had to grow that list.

We’re also working very closely with our stakeholders – our customers and our suppliers – and being open with them about our situation. We have to be honest with them about exactly what the constraints are, and sometimes we can come up with creative solutions where they accept different types of components, alternative components, even ones that they might have availability on that we don’t have.

The point is we all have the same plight. We all want to execute the project effectively, and they know as well as we do that material supply is both a global challenge and a critical factor in the process. Working together on the solution is always the smart thing to do.

As a result of these changes, we’re also trying to get more streamlined in our procurement and stores area. We have hired a stores manager who is able to operate at a high level, and his organisation within the stores is going to have a significant impact on the way we receive and manage goods. It will ensure that our increased stock does not lead to us having obsolescence issues or damaged components, and that we have visibility on every part – that nothing gets lost in our organisation.

We know that global supply chain issues could be with us for some time. We still have some significant challenges to meet, but our customers have really come on board with us. They have the same supply chain issues that we have, so they know there are real issues, and they are working effectively with us.

It’s a challenging and frustrating environment, but it’s also an opportunity to think creatively and focus closely on how you manage such issues. We are seeing signs of success from that close focus and starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, we are engineers, so we like challenges.

KAON is now in Cork!

Did you know that KAON Automation has recently opened a facility in Cork? And did you also know that we are looking for engineers to join our machine-building team by the Lee?

The new 900sqm Cork facility at Little Island has been opened to support our customer base in the southern region of the country.

We will also continue to run operations from our headquarters at a 3,000sqm purpose-built premises in Collooney in Sligo (where we are also actively hiring!)

It is an exciting move for all of us at KAON and we are looking forward to building our team in Cork.

Noel Horgan, originally from Midleton has been appointed as KAON Regional Manager and is looking for new team members. The roles we are currently hiring for include: mechanical design engineers, controls engineers, electrical design engineers and build technicians.

“KAON has been growing and expanding over the past few years and needed more capacity so the decision to open in a new market to service the southern region was a natural move for us. The reaction from potential new customers in the region has been outstanding and we are currently hiring to deal with demand,” says Noel.

“We design and build machines from concept to completion so it is a very exciting place for an engineer to work. There is a physical outcome and that is very attractive to engineers. Anyone who is interested in working with us at KAON can contact us directly or look on our website for current roles we are advertising.”

At KAON, we work primarily in the medical device industry so what we do matters. We are building machines that are saving and changing people’s lives.

If you would like to help us do that — in Cork or Sligo — contact our HR Manager Emma Regan at careers@kaonautomation.com

Building machinery of the future today

Manufacturing is changing beyond recognition as technology pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved. In recent years, exceptional new products have revolutionised the sector, but not every product fits within a standard platform.

At KAON Automation we implement ground-breaking change by providing custom-designed automation solutions to leading manufacturing companies. We take standard components from the best suppliers on the market and build high-quality machines that integrate those components into manufacturing operations across the medical device, automotive and electronic sectors.

The work is complex, challenging and stimulating. Developing a use case for ACOPOStrak from B&R is a case in point. We recently integrated this flexible track system into the operations of a multinational healthcare company for the production of filled medical solution drip bags. The bags needed a connector attached and had to be filled with a solution to an accurate repeatable rate, then sealed and packaged at a rate of 80ppm.

The main requirement for the client was that the track system was completely flexible at every point in the process and suitable for use in a wet application. ACOPOStrak provides that flexibility, marking a seismic shift in a production process that had hitherto adhered to a fixed linear sequence. This scalable machinery allows manufacturing companies to merge and diverge product flows while providing the capacity for parallel processing and a reduced footprint.

As a result, our client has an agile and responsive manufacturing machine designed around their process rather than having to design their process around the limitations of machinery as was the case in the recent past.

When it goes live in December 2021, we will have worked with the client on transforming their operations from fully manual in 2018 to being fully automated and flexible. Essentially, we are building machinery of the future today, machinery that allows immense freedom in the manufacturing process.

We are now about to enter the build phase for a new green field manufacturing site where we will be using another new technology from B&R called ACOPOS6D in what is the first implementation of this transformative technology in Ireland. With ACOPOS6D, magnetic levitating shuttles move individual products through the machine, allowing swarm production and frequent changeover between products of varying designs and dimensions.

KAON will be showcasing ACOPOS6D at the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin on November 23rd and 24th.

We currently have open positions for talented, motivated engineers in Sligo and Cork, so get in touch today if you are interested in working on the frontiers of what is possible in automation.

Welcome to KAON Automation!

We have changed our name to KAON Automation to reflect our growth and ambition for the future and have evolved our brand identity to take the company into a new era.

But while our name might change, we are still as committed as ever to continuously improving our relationships and services to our valued customers and ensuring KAON is a great place to work.

At Kaon we work primarily in the medical device industry so what we do matters, we are building machines that are saving and changing people’s lives.

We deliver innovative and scalable custom-designed automation solutions for leading manufacturing companies globally. Our team delivers high-tech robotic machines to customers mainly in the MedTech, electronic and automotive sectors.

Our headquarters are in Sligo but we recently opened a new Cork office to support our customer base in the southern region.

And in more good news, we are also hiring! If you would like to join the KAON team, contact our HR Manager Emma Regan at careers@kaonautomation.com

Increased output and OEE > 90%

ATS is at the forefront of improving productivity and making efficiency savings for the medical device industry.

This was demonstrated by the recent design and installation of a new machine which significantly increased productivity for ATS’s customer while also automating an existing manual process. To do this we were first user in the UK or Ireland of a new transport platform – SuperTrak.

SuperTrak, is from leading equipment manufacturer B&R.

Garreth Finlay, Sales Director at ATS, said: “The machine was to replace a 24/7 manual process with a fully automated process. In addition, the specification required the output to increase from 45 parts per minute to 75 parts per minute.

“We explored multiple solutions including fixed transport systems and modular linear systems. The chosen solution, however, was a track system built using the SuperTrak platform.”

The end result exceeded the client’s requirements and achieved an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) in excess of 90 percent at FAT (Factory Acceptance Test).

Innovations Day

ATS presented the successful implementation of the SuperTrak solution at the B&R Innovations Day which took place at the Williams F1 Conference Centre in Oxfordshire and was attended by around 150 professionals in the machine building industry.

If you would like to know more about this solution and how it could potentially improve your company’s productivity, please contact us.

ABB announce new generation of industrial robots

Swiss based robotic manufacturer and ATS supplier, ABB is to launch a new generation of industrial robots designed to provide users with more flexibility and a better return on investment.

The new machines, due to be released before 2021, will replace most of ABB’s existing portfolio, and will double the size of the company’s range.  At the recent Automatica exhibition in Germany, ABB announced the new portfolio as well as several other developments, including:

  • a new generation of robot controllers with footprints 50% smaller than existing models;
  • the world’s first common interface for collaborative robots, developed jointly with Kawasaki;
  • a condition monitoring and diagnostics application that uses machine learning to detect behavioural anomalies in robots and offers guidance on predictive maintenance and optimisation;
  • the world’s first digitally connected paint atomiser that will allow car-makers to optimise robotic painting in real time, while reducing waste by 75% and compressed air consumption by 25%;
  • a single-arm version of its YuMi two-armed collaborative robot (cobot); and
  • its SafeMove 2 software which, it claims, can turn any robot into a cobot.
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Our Locations

Sligo
Unit 10
Rathrippon Business Park
Collooney, Sligo
Ireland, F91 HPP9

Cork
Unit 20
Euro Business Park
Little Island, Cork
Ireland, T45 CF10

Get in Touch

Kaon Automation Limited
Registered Address: 10 Rathrippon Business Park, Collooney, Co Sligo, F91 HPP9, Ireland.
Registered in Ireland. CRO number: 428472. VAT / EORI number: IE9577549D.

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