Manufacturing automation plays an essential role in various industrial processes. By installing robotic and other automated systems in place of, or to assist, human workers, businesses can increase production, ensure quality, and substantially reduce the risk of mistakes and injuries.
Here are five specific ways in which industrial automation can benefit your business:
1. Improved Productivity
Automating manufacturing tasks and processes takes many forms. At one end of the spectrum, interconnected workstations and robots can be programmed to work unattended around the clock. But it's also possible to use robots for portions of a larger process like packaging, assembly, welding, or inspection. And human workers can often work alongside robots for a collaborative approach, rather than outright replacement. By identifying the parts of your workflow that will benefit the most from the inherent repeatability and precision of machines, you can boost overall productivity. To see some examples, check out our videos.
Automobile manufacturing is a prime example. Individual components are automatically cut, machined, and shaped at various stations. The parts are then transported to an area where robots assemble them for the finished vehicle. Automation speeds up the production process significantly.
2. Enhanced Quality
Manufacturing automation improves quality by reducing human error and ensuring accuracy and consistency.
There are many distinctly human reasons people make mistakes, such as being distracted, dropping things, losing focus, or because they lose their strength or energy. Any of these can result in damaged assemblies, out-of-tolerance welds or cuts, or wasted materials. In contrast, a robot does what it's programmed to do the same way each time, and without needing a break or becoming fatigued, so outputs are much more consistent.
It's also relatively simple to make adjustments to an automated system with reprogramming, changing equipment parameters, or even hand-guiding the arm through the correct motions. Then it's right back to work, instead of a potentially lengthy process of retraining a human operator.
3. Reduced Operational Costs
Running a business is costly, and automation is one way to reduce costs and increase profits significantly. Automation keeps mistakes to a minimum, and fixing errors or remaking bad parts is a labor-intensive endeavor. It also has an opportunity cost - taking time away from new projects and draining profitability.
Depending on your needs, automation can be a way to reduce unfilled positions, especially when qualified candidates are hard to find. This can reduce recruiting, hiring, and training expenses.
4. Improved Worker Safety
Robots often complete dull, tedious, repetitive tasks that cause humans to lose focus or become fatigued. Robots also keep workers safe by reducing injury and risks and improving ergonomics. Examples include eliminating exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials, moving heavy or large parts, or completing repetitive motions like driving screws. Replacing human workers with robots in high-risk areas has made the workplace considerably safer.
One recent study estimated that up to 3,450 workplace fatalities might be avoided by 2030 with the increased use of automation in manufacturing. As automated equipment continues to take on high-risk physical labor, companies can shift workers' time and effort to managing workflow, overseeing and troubleshooting equipment, and innovating products and processes.
5. More Efficient use of Floor Space
The ability to use space efficiently is another advantage to manufacturing automation. One or more machines can perform multiple operations within a compact work cell, reducing the footprint of the entire process. Closely-spaced robotic arms move with great precision and can be programmed with coordinated movements without colliding or damaging parts. And unlike humans, robots can be positioned on shelves, walls, and ceilings for even more layout options. Research indicates that automated warehouses take up approximately 40 percent less space than traditional warehouses.
Talk to the Experts at Force Design for more Manufacturing Automation Benefits
Designing manufacturing automation equipment is a job for experienced professionals. We can offer you an automation strategy that meets your needs and your budget!
Contact our team today for an automation system that is as unique as your production process.