Our world is truly a different place since Covid-19 has come to visit. Families are communicating differently; travel has slowed down, and the workplace has had to make drastic changes in the way they do business. This has had a significant and negative impact on the manufacturing sector. While many businesses were able to develop and embrace remote ways of working, this cannot be said for component manufacturing in factory settings. Unless you were providing essential products, many employees were asked to stay home, and business as usual came to a standstill. This absence of production employees has raised the bar regarding the prospects of automation and the positive effects this could bring to component manufacturers who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic.
Now, many component manufacturers are now looking more seriously at automation and specifically, robots. You can rely on robots to replace and enhance repetitive tasks and free up a segment of employees to focus on higher level tasks, like solving efficiency bottlenecks, and alternative solutions at a time when it is needed most. Understanding the advantages and limitations of various types of robots is critical and requires serious study in terms of cost and payback for a successful implementation.
When you add automation to a production line, you will need to consider all the ramifications that will ensue. Ahead of the automation cell, you will have to consider a faster way to present parts, along with an increased amount of parts to keep up with the new and faster automation technique. Following the automation cell, you will need a faster way to clear the parts for packaging, or ongoing assembly to avoid build up. It is important that your automated addition integrates well with the rest of your process while avoiding disruption to the rest of your process.
With the addition of a robot you will need to consider “EOAT”, end of arm tooling that will interface your part to be handled, with the robot arm. Mechanical grippers are often used for this function, however, if you are handling many objects at once, or unusually shaped objects, a foam gripper makes an excellent choice.
Investing in robotics can represent a large capital expense, so you must make certain that the cost is worth it and represents a positive payback. You should consider your exact goal and determine if robotics is right for the application. Are you trying to speed up operations and smooth the process, or is it worker safety you are after? You should consult with automation providers and let them help you understand the objectives you are trying to achieve and the best way to get there.