Applications of Automation on Machine Shops
There are various reasons for machine shops to consider the application of automation. Labor cost has been rising thus affecting the overall production costs. Skilled labor shortage also affects machine shops so they are looking into possibilities of robots to operate on the machines. Maintaining quality is another factor why machine shops are taking on the leap to automation. Whatever the reason is, automation is the next big thing in the manufacturing industry. It’s either machine shops embrace it or be obsolete.
What are the applications of automation?
Automation helps local machine shops to compete globally. Globalization changed the ways of doing business. It helped local businesses to gain connections and operate on a global scale. As automation increases productivity, more clients can be served even by a small-scale machine shop. Robotics has positively changed the ways of production. The ability of robots to be programmed to do a specific job eliminates the repetitive task of setups in a machine shop. The result is an increase in time efficiency. Time is gold and so a machine shop saves money if it saves time in the production process. For the best automation solutions for your business, visit IntelLiDrives
Lay-offs are really not the issue with automation. In fact, automation retains employees. As workers are replaced by robots, they are now more focused on checking for the quality of the products. Additionally, workers still have to do maintenance checks on the different types of equipment, and so they can focus more on such tasks. In some other machine shops, additional skilled laborers were needed i.e. technicians who know and understand how robotics works.
The problem really lies in when skilled laborers get to retirement. There is a study that the skilled workers’ generation is gradually dwindling. And there will come a time that there will be an inevitable shortage of these technical skills. So how can automation solve this problem? By gradually integrating robotics in every machining process, machine shops will be able to rely on robots 100% of the time. Nowadays, robotics can be programmed to set up, loading, pickup, and transfer of finished product onto conveyors for inspection.
Automation increases the capacity of even smaller machine shops. It takes time for machine shops to learn how the automation process works for the advantage of increasing capacity. As machine shops adjust to the automation process, the more run time they can allow for the machines to work. Now, machine shops can run from 40 hours per week to over a hundred hours per week unattended.
Automation improves the quality of the finished products. Humans are susceptible to errors and irregularities when it comes to workmanship. Humans are affected by health, fatigue, moods, and other factors. These factors affect human workers to commit errors while performing their jobs in a machine shop. Quality of finished products suffers and this will result in a domino effect. Compromising the quality of a product affects productivity. Low rate of productivity results in losing the opportunity of getting large scale orders. This will result in a reduction in profits and worse closing down of business.
Robots are not prone to fatigue, and emotions. They work as to how they are programmed. If they are programmed to do a specific task, they can do it repetitively with consistency and without any discrepancies. Finished products will not have even a slight difference in quality, size, color, or shape. That’s how automation works in a machine shop setting.
Automation reduces the wastage of materials thus saving machine shops costs on production. Automation in machine shops includes the use of 3D modeling software. It is a powerful tool in creating digital prototypes of parts or products. Now, machine shops no longer design a product and create a physical prototype. You can manipulate the digital prototype and perform tests using the software. A real-life simulation is performed by the software. This enables the machine shop to save on precious materials. They no longer have to do the actual cycle of designing, building, and testing physical products – that if a design fails, designers will have to go back to scratch.
Automation of machine shops is not actually new. In fact, it has been in play for many years and many machine shops have already taken the advantage of automating their processes of production. The cost of automation may be put into consideration. Weighing the cost of investment against the profitability will determine if automation fits the set up of a machine shop. Keep in mind that many machine shops have already reaped the benefits of automation. Don’t get left behind. Consider machine shop automation.