Have you ever thought about automating all or part of your manufacturing line? If you’re like most business looking for a competitive edge, of course you have. In today’s competitive market, automation is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. But the thought of relocating to a larger facility or upgrading older equipment can be overwhelming.
The fact is, you may be able to enjoy the advantages of automation sooner than you think – and without moving! With over a hundred robots installed each year, we’ve learned a lot about integrating robotic automation within existing spaces, large or small. Here’s what you need to know.
New state-of-the-art automated work cells are quite compact, even with hard guarding (cell fencing). Robots are easily programmed to work within a certain workspace and within the recommended RIA (Robotic Industry Association) clearance for safe operation.
Plus, automated steps you might not have thought about, like inspection stations, have smaller footprints than manual systems. By thinking through some additional processes that can be integrated into a robot cell, or in reevaluating the flow of product through your facility, you can actually gain space and realize the maximum benefits from the automation process.
Newer equipment typically has a network safe I/O to easily integrate with automation. However, many companies have a sizable investment in equipment that has been around for a while. You don’t have to say goodbye to existing equipment to realize the benefits of automation. Qualified engineers routinely integrate “handshakes” between existing systems or install new, hard-wired interface connections from existing machines to the robotic segment of the process.
RIA-certified integrators understand the nuances of working in harsh environments. In addition to the hard guarding that is installed around automation work cells, robot controllers are programmed with DCS (Dual Check Safety), an integrated safety system. This system controls the robot’s range of motion, creating a safety bubble around each device with automatic shutdown if ever pushed outside that space.
You actually may be leaving money on the table by delaying automation. Depending on the complexity of the cell, most companies see a return on their investment in as little as 18 to 24 months. The payback comes from an immediate increase in efficiency – automated systems don’t take lunch or breaks and never call in sick.
In our experience, automation is a lot like anything new we encounter in life: we fear what we don’t know. But once workers familiarize themselves with automated systems, their fears are alleviated as they come to realize that automation does not lead to job loss. It actually creates more interesting jobs. Operators not only embrace the process, they become a valuable resource in its evolutionary improvement.
The Advantages of Automating Now
You can achieve all the benefits of automation without moving to a new plant or upgrading to new machinery. Installing automation sooner rather than later allows you to realize increased profits delivered by higher efficiency, more productive operators, better quality products and reduced levels of scrap.
As an RIA certified integrator, our engineers have the experience and expertise to seamlessly install automation systems in your facility. Consult with us today!