The manufacturing industry has long used physical robots to help streamline processes. However, the industry is struggling with numerous problems, including unskilled labor, time-consuming processes, outdated supply chain management systems, and frequently changing regulatory requirements. For these reasons, manufacturers are increasingly turning to process automation tools.
Increased production capacity
Robotics is becoming a vital part of manufacturing processes in many industries, and these devices can improve production capacity and reduce costs. By using sensors and simulation software, industrial robots can use consumable resources efficiently and effectively. The data generated by these robots can help companies understand the factors that affect quality and productivity. This information can help companies adapt their manufacturing processes to fix quality problems during the production process.
Increasing the number of items produced within a certain period of time is directly related to future profits, and robotics can streamline production and output more items in less time. Additionally, industrial robots can produce multiple products simultaneously, reducing the need for human workers. In addition, these advanced robots can be used in collaborative production, called co-bots, to improve overall production efficiency.
The use of robotic systems can reduce costs by increasing the output of a manufacturing plant. This is especially true in low-volume, high-mix manufacturing. Robotic systems can move from task to task with ease and can be programmed by an employee. In addition, they tend to be more affordable than general-purpose manufacturing robots. For example, BWIndustrie in France saw an increase in revenue of 70% after implementing collaborative robots and achieved a return on investment within 12 months. Another Japanese automotive key manufacturer, Alpha Corporation, introduced collaborative robots to its key cutting and palletizing lines. With this new technology, they were able to increase productivity by 20%.
According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, increased use of robotics in the workplace could cut labor costs by as much as 18 percent in the world's biggest exporters by 2025. The use of robotics in manufacturing is expected to further reduce costs. It is estimated that by 2025, advanced robots will be capable of performing 30 percent of tasks previously performed by humans.
In manufacturing, increased precision is crucial. Robots have the potential to be extremely accurate. Whether performing material removal, inspection, or welding, precision is a must. However, not all robots have this capability. This is because they can still be hampered by errors in measurements and are subject to error. Using additional measurement methods to validate accuracy is one way to improve robots' performance. Another option is to use programmable logic controllers. These controllers send data to the robot while also performing calculations before sending them. Additionally, third-party solutions can help you calibrate robots for increased accuracy.
The latest generation of robotics uses a combination of sensors to ensure precision. Unlike early models, which followed a linear path without any direction, the latest generation of robots uses vision systems and lasers to detect orientation. In addition, newer generations can analyze multiple data points to adjust their movements in real time. They can also imitate the skills of a skilled craftsman. For example, they can perform deburring, grinding, and polishing tasks. Advanced robotics also incorporates more powerful computer technology. Furthermore, some robots can use spectral analysis to check the quality of a weld, which can cut down on the need for post-manufacturing inspections.
Reductions in rejects when using robotics in manufacturing can increase productivity and lower costs for manufacturers. One example is a large electronics manufacturer that saw a sharp decline in the reject rate of its products. It opted to use a collaborative robot that is controlled by a cloud-connected system. The robot performed soldering, drilling, silicone dispensing, and light assembly tasks, increasing production efficiency fivefold.
Using robots to perform upstream processing can help companies reduce rejects in manufacturing. These robots also reduce the likelihood of human contact with food, thereby reducing cross-contamination. They can also improve compliance with legislation and safety standards. Furthermore, they eliminate the costs of employing manual labor. They can also reduce the energy bill and special lighting and thermal controls that are associated with manual labor. Using robotics also reduces reject waste and capital costs.
Robotic manufacturing systems are proving increasingly useful to manufacturers, as their cost is decreasing. Manufacturers can use robotic machines to perform tasks in smaller batches, thereby increasing flexibility for processes. Flexible automation also helps to reduce the need for handling mechanisms and expensive fixtures. For example, a robotic drilling arm can drill holes in an aircraft spar during the assembly process. The robot detaches from an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV), walks along the spar, and then connects to a tooling station. When finished, the robot is collected by the AGV to move to the next task.
While this flexibility has many advantages, some companies have yet to embrace it fully. A major obstacle to flexible manufacturing is the amount of time required to change robot programming. Fortunately, advances in self-programming and machine learning have made the process easier to change. Many robotics vendors are working to make programming easier and more intuitive.
As the costs of robotics continue to decline and their capabilities continue to increase, we can expect to see even more widespread adoption of industrial robots in manufacturing. This shift is sure to have a major impact on the workforce, as well as on manufacturers’ bottom lines. What are your thoughts?