More manufacturers than ever before are turning to automation to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Small businesses and large companies alike are now increasingly relying on robotic automation to free human laborers of repetitive tasks and boost productivity. With affordable industrial robots that are safe to work alongside humans, integrated with computer vision, utilize machine learning, and equipped with soft touch grippers, the many benefits of robotic automation are growing everyday.
If you are a manufacturer, regardless of your company’s size, and considering robotic automation for your factory, keep in mind the following top ten benefits that apply to all manufacturing applications across industries:
By implementing robotic automation and taking advantage of the benefits of robotic labor, manufacturers can boost the productivity and efficiency of their factories. Industrial robots can work non-stop for 24 hours, unattended, every single day. They can be programmed to make precise, repetitive movements that are quick and reliable. This enhanced level of production can help dramatically increase the total output of a factory and elevate the role of factory workers. When you use Forge/OS to program your robots, they can be easily introduced to your production lines more efficiently, which accordingly reduces cycle lead times and increases total efficiency.
Industrial robots are built to be flexible. With industrial automation, manufacturers can easily retool, redeploy, and reposition robots for new production programs and applications. This is especially helpful in high-mix, low-volume production environments, where product requirements change frequently; instead of long product changeover times, robots that are empowered by Forge/OS’s easy to learn, intuitive interface, can have quick changeovers and can rapidly switch between different products without needing to completely recreate production lines.
Unlike human laborers that may make occasional errors, industrial robots are programmed to execute very specific tasks over and over again without any variability, which results in improved product consistency and higher overall quality. By reducing the likelihood of errors occurring during production, manufacturers aren’t only improving product quality. They are also saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on correcting errors. Manufacturers can benefit from consistently high product quality as long as they properly service and maintain their industrial robots.
By reducing production lead times and increasing total productivity, industrial robots can help reduce total manufacturing costs by 20% to 60%. Operating costs are also reduced as valuable human labor can be reallocated from repetitive tasks to strategic tasks. For some small manufacturers, the cost of installing an industrial robot might seem too high initially; however, the cost of robots has decreased by more than 50% over the past 30 years1, and recouping the cost of an automated robot and realizing a profit can be made on average within two years2. Some manufacturers have even reduced this timeframe to under one year.
Industrial robots are able to take on repetitive tasks that may otherwise be very dangerous or hazardous for human employees. For example, lifting too much weight, working with blades
or lasers, exposure to fire or gases, and more, may be life-threatening for your factory workers. Manufacturers can proactively safeguard their employees by shifting this type of dangerous work to industrial robots that are equipped to perform them. This helps to reduce accidents and injuries in the factory work environment and helps workers to stay healthy in the long term.
By reducing product variability and increasing the rate at which new products are released for purchase, customers are likely to be much happier with production outputs. Higher customer satisfaction can result in higher word-of-mouth referrals and positive product reviews, which in turn generate more revenue for your business. Industrial robots can ensure that product consistency can yield a steadfast level of customer satisfaction, and also ensure that the new product changes that are requested by customers are executed as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
Most industrial robots are equipped with machine vision technology and wireless Internet connections, which enables them to track detailed data about production in a way that human observers are unable to. The latest generations of robots can integrate all information from its sensors to analytics applications, like Forge/Sight, giving factory owners, managers, and operators access to thorough production data that can reveal new opportunities for process improvement.
Additionally, industrial robots can use more detailed data analysis and machine learning to check the quality of the products it’s producing, thus reducing the amount of post-manufacturing inspection that is needed.
Precision in production can empower manufacturers to maximize material usage and minimize the waste of resources throughout the factory. Industrial robots are programmed to be precise and consistent in product creation, which means that materials are used only exactly as needed. For example, industrial robots can ensure that the most minimal paint is applied for product development and that the least amount of wire is used for welding. This helps manufacturers to save money and achieve conservation in factories.
Many industrial robots today have been built on compact and mobile bases to fit in small spaces. Robots can not only be moved around on a mobile base, but they can also be mounted on ceilings, walls, and more – all of which helps to save floor space within a factory. By producing output in smaller spaces, industrial robots help manufacturers to save valuable space that could be utilized for other production activities. It may be more common for non-automated manufacturers to spread out their production tools and materials throughout an entire factory floor; alternatively, automation can help manufacturers save space, as well as time, for factory workers that can now complete their tasks within a smaller footprint.
As tedious and repetitive tasks are taken on by industrial robots, manufacturers can greatly benefit from having their valuable human labor focus on high-level tasks that require greater strategy, expertise, and flexibility. Manufacturing workers can help contribute directly to the future success of the company by focusing on strategic ways to improve production and drive revenue; this can include focusing on new product innovations or new ways to drive production efficiency. These more engaging tasks will not only help the company, but can also help factory workers feel fulfilled in their efforts, thereby reducing employee turnover and alleviating hiring challenges
These benefits of industrial automation make it clear why a robotic approach to production is now present in manufacturing companies of all sizes and industries worldwide. Even small manufacturing companies today can now compete globally with large multinationals due to the great benefits of robotic automation.
1. Tilley, Jonathan. “Automation, robotics, and the factory of the future.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey Insights. September 2017. Web
2. Anandan, Tanya M. “Why Should I Automate?” Robotics Online. Robotic Industries Association. February 2019. Web