As a manufacturer, you have many opportunities to automate some or all of your production. In fact, if you tend to think robotics and automation are limited to large-scale factories and plants, it may interest you to know that today’s robotics and automation technology are accessible to small and medium-sized companies as well.
At Force Design, customers come to us with many different needs for production, quality, or ergonomic and workforce challenges. No two manufacturers have identical requirements; therefore, we design and build custom systems that integrate with the customer’s existing operations and reliably solve their unique challenges.
The more an automation system is used, the bigger impact it has on production and profitability. For that reason, we strive to create turnkey systems that our customers can put to use right away and continue to operate reliably. These complete and ready-to-use workstations and cells are outfitted with custom and pre-engineered equipment appropriate for each application. Programming, debugging, and installation are included so you can realize the advantages of automation without delay.
Automation might be a new frontier for your company, and you may not have considered working with an automation integrator in your facility. After all, you’re the expert on your manufacturing procedures, employees, and challenges, and you understand better than anyone the details and how they fit together.
But you may not be familiar with the array of automation options out there, or have the technical knowledge to put them to best use. You can count on Force Design to guide you to the most appropriate technologies that address your unique needs.
Your first step is identifying points throughout your facility with the potential for automation, then reaching out to us. Here are some examples of what you can look for:
Putting Automation Tools and Technology to Work for You
Our customers tell us automation is a game-changer, giving them advantages over manual processes and solving challenges, including:
Most of the time there is more than one option for any given application, whether your goal is comprehensive automation of your entire production area, adding a single machine to streamline a task, or incorporating flexible-use robotics to deploy in several places in your shop as needs change.
Robots often come to mind first, but we use a variety of automation equipment to build custom, turnkey systems, including:
Robots. Depending on the application, compact collaborative robots or larger industrial robots perform physical movements as directed by a program. Articulated arms with multiple axes of motion (like the joints in your arm) allow for complex movements.
Grippers and other end-of-arm tooling. There are tools for many types of tasks, including caliper-style grippers, vacuum cups, welding torches, grinders, drills, lasers, and more.
Human machine interfaces (HMI). This refers to any part of a machine a human operator will interact with during operations, such as a touchscreen, graphical display, or keyboard.
Safety equipment. Worker safety protected with guarding, gates, keyed lock-out systems, perimeter monitoring systems, and sensors to avoid collisions and secure the workstation area.
Ancillary instrumentation. This includes sensors, cameras, cables and supply lines, and other equipment that facilitates communication between automation hardware and software.
Motion control technology. Devices like actuators, programmable logic controller (PLC), and other mechanisms are used to control how and when each piece of automation equipment moves.
Distributed control systems (DCS). Systems rely on large numbers of control loops and feature a central operator supervisory control.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). SCADA systems provide complex process monitoring and management for industrial operations.
By their nature, custom automation systems vary widely in what they look like and how they operate. The details always come down to the individual task, scale of operations, and production goals. In general, though, they utilize motion control engineering and specialized programming for applications such as:
We try to add value wherever possible in our systems. That can take many forms, from integrating a workstation right into an existing production line, to adding a vision inspection system to a packaging robot, to adding conveyors to move sub-assemblies to the next workstation.
The all-inclusive turnkey systems we build can also be adjusted for optimal performance. We do this with PLC programming (allowing for on-the-fly adjustments to equipment based on sensors and SCADA system data), intuitive user interfaces, and connectivity between machines. This allows your operators and managers to monitor production in real time and make adjustments quickly when needed. You’ll be able to:
With an eye for continuous improvement, we offer ongoing support so that you will always have an experienced team behind you. In our 20-plus years in the industrial automation industry, no two customers have had the same processes or requirements and that’s why implementing automation shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You need a customized automation system that’s as unique as your production processes, and that’s where we can help.
To learn more about what automation strategy is best for you, contact our team today!