Automation is a sure way for industrial factories to increase production, generate superior quality goods, and compete on the international stage. Making the switch from conventional processes to new automated technology does not happen overnight. A perfect understanding of the requirements ought to be harmonised with the solutions provided by automation. Here are three key assessment tips that should act as evaluative framework for factory managers when thinking about upgrading to automated equipment and processes.
Understand your application
The most effective automated solutions typically come from those industrial factories that boast of a comprehensive understanding of their day-to-day manufacturing processes. Understanding your application should include aspects such as actual tolerance on components and the real adaptability in the process, as opposed to what's specified. Based on that knowledge, the system integrator or robot vendor can recommend the most effective robotic solutions. Therefore, before plant managers can even begin to compare automated solutions and vendors, it's imperative that they completely understand their existing manufacturing processes and urgent needs.
A number of reasons are behind any automating decision, such as increase in production, reduced costs, good quality or creation of new components that cannot be fabricated by hand. It's imperative that you clearly understand the inspiring factors for your impending automation project before looking for a solution. This may sound obvious, however sometimes, factory managers get too fixated on a single factor, for example cost savings, and overlook what is actually important for their industrial unit, which may be quality or revenue improvements. Given that most automated projects feature several motivating factors, factory managers should mainly concentrate on the ones most essential to their factory processes.
Return on Investment (ROI) ought to be arguably the first factor to think about when considering whether to automate a new or existing process. Factory managers should ask themselves the expected return on investment if they implement the new automation project. Simply put, what's the time duration before the initial outlay for computerized equipment is recouped? Before embarking on the automation project, carry out an estimate of the overall costs of production at present and then compare the findings with an automated equipment solution to see how long it will take to realize payback.
To that end, factory managers should turn to automation progressively or bit by bit. A safer, though slower, route is to have a few transitional steps. For example, going from an operator-controlled system to a semiautomatic equipment which only automates the process, but is still packed and unpacked by an operator. The semiautomatic equipment allows the manufacturing or material handling process to be perfected, making the switch to complete automation much less dicey.