In many facilities, automation is becoming a key part of the manufacturing process. It can increase speed, accuracy, and general efficiency in output. It can also perform many tasks off production lines such as warehouse, packaging, and inventory jobs. All sizes of facilities considering implementing automation should look at specific areas automation can benefit them most. To assist, we have listed five innovative ways you can install an automation system in your facility.
1. On the Production Line
One of the most cost-efficient methods of automation is production line implementation. On the production line, the part starts at one end and stations until it emerges as a finished product. Long production runs with many parts can benefit by adding automation at stations.
One of the main uses of automation in these areas is presswork and machining. This is particularly popular in the automotive industry. Implementing automation in both will result in immediate quality improvement.
Press working is the bending and cutting of sheet metal for parts. Complicated parts have many stages of bending the metal into the desired shape. Automation can overcome this by using a chain of robots, or a sequence inputted to one automaton.
Machining is similar but involves the cutting of metal and removal of parts. Many motors with intricate metal parts get created in this way. An automated transfer line can speed up the production of these multi-part systems while increasing product accuracy.
2. Assembly Automation System
Robotics is becoming more accurate. Many of the tasks that once required the dextrous hands of a human can now be performed by robotics. The notion of a multi-station assembly line manned by a workforce can now become an automated assembly line.
Automated assembly usually works best with products that have a simple design. For cost-effectiveness, it also works best with objects produced in mass amounts. Merchandise type items such as keyrings and lighters may fit into this category.
Using a production line, each automation can perform tasks before passing the component on to the next workstation. This may include welding, riveting, and other processes usually performed by hand. Assembly machines would generally consist of several stations each serving a different need.
It is also worth noting that all automation leads to an increase in health and safety for workers. Organizations have even begun to incorporate robotic technology, with worker safety equipment. Removing the human element takes workers away from dangerous machinery, allowing them to work in other more productive areas of your plant.
3. Plan for Machine Vision Error Detection
While error detection in automation has not yet arrived, it is on its way. It will allow AI to detect tiny faults in everything from integrated circuitry to manufactured products. It will also allow us to self analyze production processes to increase quality improvement with the use of inspection machines.
This machinery will communicate with other AI components in the process. Should a fault occur, the computer can then shut down the assembly line until the problem is fixed. This can save money on expensive recalls and the production of substandard products.
This real-time asset monitoring process is already in place in many sectors. The energy and utility industries are the main users. It is likely to be just a few years before the technology is fully integrated into automated manufacturing.
4. Warehousing and Storage
Even after products are complete, automation can still assist in their storage and with inventories. Robots are able to restock, replace, and dispatch items while adjusting stock control as they perform their functions. Products transferred to a shipping station by automation can be dispatched by other members of the workforce or an automated packaging system.
The automated warehouse uses three main components to function. The first is the automated storage and retrieval system which works with a warehouse management system. Both help cut down the manual tasks which slow down the business of transporting goods.
This means your products are out to customers quicker and more efficiently. They will also be packed and stored in a uniform manner.
5. Numerical Control
Numerical control first started in the machine tools field. It was a method in which the position of a cutting tool relevant to the part being cut was set using a code. This would either be on external storage or originally, a length of paper with holes punched into it.
The code specifies the X Y Z coordinates, directing the tool to the correct areas to be machined. A control system that provides feedback checks that the job and instructions are correctly performed. Since its start, numerical control has developed to work with many things other than machine tools.
It can create technical drawing machines, drafting plans, and instructions. They can also help coordinate measuring machines and electronics assembly.
Numerical control will be an asset to your facility as you can increase accuracy. It can also increase production times with no loss in quality.
Advice on Automation Implementation
With an overview of the areas in which an automation system can improve your productivity, you can begin planning for implementation. Begin by making a list of areas that you feel need improvement or maximized efficiency in your facility. Then brainstorm the ways automation could improve them.
If you need help and advice, we will be more than happy to discuss your needs. We can supply and customize many automation devices for your individual needs. Contact us for a quote today and discuss bringing the future to your company!