Future Of A Production Line

Collaborative blog with Exact Automation and DIY Robotics discussing the future of automated production lines. 

Part 1 – Is automation a good investment and the right choice for your industry? How long will it take and what will your business gain? Will robotic automation help with future growth? All these answers and more are discussed below. 

Part 2 coming out soon! 

Yes, wherever you have a repetitive process, heavy lifting, or work that is not rewarding for someone to complete. Then automation is a significant investment and provides the most cost-effective solution to your process. It isn’t necessary to purchase outright, however. 

There are several options for leasing or renting robots by the hour or charging for the time the system produces for you. Yes, you could install an automated system that you only pay for when it’s working! If leasing or renting a robot sounds right for your business, we can explore those options together to determine the best path.

The additional benefits of automating go beyond just the initial investment and use case. Over the last several years, we have learned that labor is not always predictable or reliable. With an automation cell, you set yourself up with something always at work, always on time, and constantly producing products for you. 

How much time and resources do you dedicate to finding and hiring new employees to fill those tough-to-keep positions? With automation, you eliminate the additional burden of continuously trying to engage in those jobs that are not desirable to the workforce. It also creates new opportunities within your business for someone to do a more technical role working with automation. Thus, allowing them both the time and the opportunity to work in multiple areas of a process, ensuring that the automation is getting what it needs to perform its task and making sure it’s performing as expected.

Depending on what is automated, installations can last anywhere from a few days or weeks to a few months. More extensive systems can take beyond a year.

If you have several areas that could benefit from automation, you do not necessarily need to run each process simultaneously. A mobile automation solution would allow you to employ the automation where and when required. Rather than purchasing a dedicated solution for each function, you would be able to move the cell around your facility to ensure you are getting the most from your investment and have room for future growth. 

The collaborative robotics (cobot) world is expanding and offering even more capabilities that could make cobots a good fit for your process. A cobot could be the right fit if your procedure requires the robot to interact closely and frequently with operators. If your approach needs to be guarded or involves higher rates or payloads, then it may be more appropriate to use an industrial robot in your process.

The Exact team takes care of all of this for you. We review 

  1. Your process to determine the space available for the automation
  2. Payload requirements of the robot
  3. How far the robot will have to reach to perform its task
  4. How fast the robot needs to complete the work

Once all the details are understood, we determine the best robot for the job and build the rest of the automation cell around the robot’s capabilities to facilitate the process.

A traditional robot project involves one or multiple robots dedicated to a single task or process and permanently located within your facility. A mobile robot project can be relocated to several work areas whenever production demands require it.

Robots on their own are as precise as they are programmed to be, but they are highly repeatable in the tasks that they perform. A typical repeatability measurement for a robot can be in the 0.02-0.06mm (0.000787402-0.0023622in) range making them extremely capable of exact processes. For operations requiring high precision, there is always a great deal of focus put into the tooling used with the robot and the fixturing with which the robot interacts. More often than not, there will be a vision system or a measurement system, which ensures that the robot is not only repeatable but remains accurate to the process.

Robots and automation do great when tackling any task that requires heavy, repetitive lifting and motion. While robots can be programmed to do just about anything, here are a few examples of processes that robots do exceptionally well in:

  • Palletizing/Depalletizing
  • Case Packing/Unpacking
  • Material Removal (Debug, Deflash, Polishing, Grinding)
  • Welding
  • Machine Tending (Mills, Lathes, Presses)

If an operator has experience working with other automation and interacting with an HMI, they can operate a robotic automation cell. The Exact team will train operators in startup and use of the automation before go-live on all of our projects. 

If operators need to have a more in-depth knowledge of programming the robots, then Exact would work with you to train operators in the project-specific program or facilitate getting operators to the available training courses offered by the robot manufacturer.

Yes. Here are just a few of the sectors in that robots currently operate:

  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing (Metals, Plastics, Electronics, Textiles)
  • Food and Beverage
  • Logistics, Warehousing, and Distribution
  • Medical and Pharmaceutical
  • Construction

Are you looking to increase productivity in your production line, reduce workplace injuries, and be adaptable for future business growth? If you answer yes to just one, a robot is right for you! 

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