Automation and robotics use specialized equipment to perform defined physical tasks, like packing products in boxes or spot welding metal frames. Sometimes we hear “automation” and think “robot.” With a range of payload and reach capacities, easy programming, articulated joints, and high speed, robots are a clear choice for applications requiring precise movements and repeatability. It’s no wonder they’re becoming more and more popular among manufacturers of all sizes, especially smaller, user-friendly collaborative robots.
Companies always approach capital expenditures with great care, but especially now as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. While we think this is actually a good time to invest in automation, we understand it might feel risky in this time of uncertainty and changing markets.
To implement automation in welding effectively and maximize your ROI, you need to approach it as a system, not merely a torch-wielding robotic arm standing in for a human welder. Thinking about the flow of parts into the welding cell, how they’re fixtured and welded, and where they’re transferred next may present opportunities to boost efficiency, save space, or open up production bottlenecks.
According to recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 53.1 percent of manufacturers anticipate a change in their operations due to the current COVID19 pandemic. You may already be experiencing changes to your business as you adjust to the financial impact, worker health and safety protections, supply chain disruptions, or decreases in new orders. At the same time, shortages of specific products including medical devices and protective equipment and related supplies means some manufacturers have new opportunities to expand production or make new items, if only temporarily.
Even if you don’t work in the HR world, you’ve probably heard of cross training employees. This method of teaching workers to do more than one job equips them with multiple skill sets and increases their value to their team, allowing them to fill in or provide reinforcement on an as-needed basis. It’s seen in settings as diverse as the corner coffee shop or a municipal public safety department. When employees can perform their own job as well as the key skills for other positions, it adds a level of flexibility that improves response time and productivity. What you might not know is there are similar benefits in applying this approach to automation equipment in manufacturing.