In a recent interview, Innovative Automation President Steve Loftus shared his vision for the company as it grows, its’ competitive edge over other automation companies, and how the company attracts great talent.
Question: As president and co-founder of Innovative Automation how do you describe what your company does and how it helps manufacturing industries worldwide?
Innovative Automation provides custom robotic machinery mainly for the automotive industry. We recently began serving the pharmaceutical industry also, providing custom solutions for the manufacture of medical devices.
The flexible solutions that we provide help our customers to increase their profitability, return on investment, and allows them to more easily grow their market share. Innovative Automation has typically served Canada, US and Mexico, and is now reaching out globally to include markets in Europe and Asia.
Question: Although there are more than 350 robotics and automation companies in Ontario, Innovative Automation has almost tripled in size in less than three years. It has recently acquired a new facility to allow for even further expansion. What are the key factors fueling this growth and where do you see the company going over the next 5-7 years?
Innovative Automation has grown about 25% in the past year and nearly tripled in size in the last 3 years. A new addition to the brand-new 63,000 sq. ft. facility is already in the works, which will add another 25,000 sq. ft. The team will be increased from about 140 employees to 200.
This growth is being fuelled by our expansion onto a global platform. These new markets are larger and are increasing the volume per order from the typical 1-3 units to up to 10 machines at a time.
Our success over other automation companies has been largely due to our unique understanding of our customers. Specifically, how important building quality pieces with inherent flexibility of use, results in more uptime and better throughput. Our customers can rely on the quality and meticulous research and development that goes into our manufacturing solutions.
Question: With changes and advancements in technology happening daily, how does your automation company provide the latest manufacturing intelligence and ensure it integrates and is sustained for the long term?
Innovative Automation stays on top of the latest manufacturing intelligence by investing in the continuous learning of our team of Innovators. In addition, suppliers are regularly engaged to bring new pieces of equipment to the team for extensive research and development.
Some of our brightest Innovators from within each department are engaged to look for new applications. We also look for new ways to marry new technologies together to develop new and creative solutions for our customers’ individual needs.
To ensure our new solutions are the best over the long term, we create models and test them extensively prior to implementation. These prototypes are re-tested over long periods of time to ensure they are functionally sustainable.
Question: You often refer to Innovative’s focus on flexible solutions developed around a total cost of ownership. Can you talk more about this and how it yields a higher ROI for manufacturers?
We provide greater return on investment by supplying value-added solutions that have greater uptime, better throughput, and better overall quality. While our solutions typically cost more initially, we look at the total cost of ownership. Innovative Automation makes better quality equipment with more flexibility and adaptability for different tasks, so the overall cost per piece is lower.
Our products are built around a total cost of ownership, because that gives the best return on investment for our customers. In Canada, we typically manufacture in smaller volumes, so in order for manufacturing to be viable, it must be more flexible to generate throughput around multiple products. We’re introducing this ingenuity to our global customers to allow them to adapt our equipment in the same way.
Question: How does Innovative Automation attract great talent?
Innovative Automation attracts great talent by providing rewarding careers by constantly challenging our Innovators to push their limits, and by providing opportunities for them to embrace new technologies. We also give them opportunities to be more socially responsible and to become leaders in their communities. All of these things we believe contributes to the whole person, that has greater value to the community, value to the company and they are rewarded accordingly.