Which part of an automation process takes the most time?
In my experience, the phase between the initial installation and the final handover to routine operation can last 3–6 months and sometimes longer. More specifically, the stabilization and optimization activities that take place between a defined training period and a discrete handover deadline are typically the most difficult to predict. During this period, new processes and operating procedures start to take hold, as previously independent diagnostic empires begin to function as a holistic team leveraging a common transport and centralized data-management system. Siemens field service personnel and technical application specialists, who will support the site going forward, join the team. In addition to implementing fairly straightforward technical refinements to improve performance of the automation system, we frequently see human and process issues that were not visible when the automated laboratory was still theoretical. When this happens, the Siemens Healthcare Consulting Services team will help the customer organize rapid-improvement events and employ other Lean process strategies to better optimize overall laboratory operations. Although it can take time and be a bit unpredictable, the laboratory director and staff improve their change-management skills and are better equipped to drive for continuous improvements in their operation long after this discrete automation project has been completed.
--- Stan B., Senior Manager, HCS, ~12 years at Siemens