Manufacturing Automation and Robotics: Are you keeping up?

category-badge-INNOVATIONManufacturing automation, like other technology, is developing faster and faster.  Newer versions with expanded capabilities are being introduced with greater speed and frequency.  At the same time, costs are falling making the technology more accessible to smaller manufacturers.  Manufacturers must continually evaluate these technologies and incorporate them into their business to remain globally competitive.

A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) expects that 1.2 million additional robots will be used in U.S. industry by 2025.  In addition, BCG predicts that robots will boost productivity by up to 30 percent and reduce labor costs by up to 16 percent, providing a clear competitive advantage for those who understand how to capitalize on their advantages.

Benefits of Automation

automationAlthough industrial automation is not new, until recently the significant expense associated with implementation has prevented widespread adoption.  However, as the cost of automation and robotics equipment comes down, manufacturers of all sizes are increasingly able to take advantage of this technology to reduce costs, improve quality, and maximize efficiency.  And, the benefits don’t stop there.  Automation also:

  • Speeds production, reduces errors and improves quality
  • Increases safety by taking on dangerous tasks or performing work in hazardous conditions.
  • Offers flexibility that allows production to be increased or decreased without the need to add or reduce employee headcount.
  • Provides a wealth of information about the manufacturing process through extensive data collection

The Evolution of Robots

Robotic technology is evolving quickly to be more autonomous and flexible.  Robots are being used to handle tasks of greater complexity. Collaborative robots are already safely working side by side with humans and have demonstrated the capability to learn.  For example, a recent addition to the market is an interactive production robot named Sawyer from Rethink Robotics.  With a price point of $29,000, no safety cages, costly integration or complex programming required, this robot and others like it could be a game changer for smaller operations.

An Innovative Workforce Solution

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to automation and robotics to expand manufacturing capacity as an alternative to increasing labor.  A commonly held belief is that the increased use of robots will put humans out of work.  However, in a global economy, the use of robots could be one of the best ways to ensure manufacturing jobs survive and thrive.  .  Use of automation helps US manufacturers remain competitive with foreign completion which often has lower labor costs.  In addition, using robots to perform more repetitive processes allows employees to focus on higher level duties such as troubleshooting, process improvements and innovation.

Automation Everywhere

Automation is not limited to robots on the production line.  It can be applied to nearly every facet of the operation from facilities management to supply chain.  Smart sensors and wireless technologies are transforming the manufacturing industry. In addition, integrated systems and real-time data will drive decision making in entirely new ways leading to greater levels of efficiency.

The Time is Now

Automation isn’t just for the big industry players anymore.  This revolutionary technology is accessible to any manufacturer who wants to remain competitive in the future.  Now is the time to look for some outside assistance to integrate automation into your operation and OH!Manufacturing can help.  Automation and robotics technology is moving fast and it can be hard to keep up, don’t get left behind… contact us today!

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