Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Automation for Small Manufacturers How Automation can Dramatically Improve Your Production Processes Inc. Industrial Robotics for Manufacturing SMEs
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Automation involves using computerised control systems for the efficient production of products or processing of materials. Typically automation is considerably more productive than equivalent methods of manufacture, based on people man-handling components. In its widest sense automation includes conveyor systems, highly specialist computerised manufacturing processes, pick-and-place systems, as well as robotics, together with vision, probe and sensor-based systems for inspection.
Historically many people have perceived automation to be best suited to larger manufacturing businesses, but this is definitely not the case any more. Smaller manufacturers can significantly benefit from automation. The problem is often there is a lack of awareness of automation solutions and the benefits they can provide. Smaller manufacturing organisations often do not know what automation applications are out there, how to specify them, how to commission them and above all, the significant advantages they can bring, together with the problems they can solve.
Automation and Robotics Work Cell:
Appropriate for small manufacturing businesses
Automation for Small Manufacturers: Step-Change Improvements for Your Business...
Automation benefits include:
Other advantages include:
Automation for Small Manufacturers: Investment Justification...
Reasons to consider automation as a means of improving some of your manufacturing processes:
Pick and Place Automation: For repeatability, quality and precision
Automation for Small Manufacturers: Important Considerations...
Small manufacturing businesses, quite understandably, often do not have the awareness and therefore confidence to make the leap and invest in automation equipment to improve their processes.
Automation considerations include the perceived relatively high investment costs (for small manufacturers) and expertise required to operate and service the equipment. Working with an automation supplier or partner is the best way to ensure a favourable return on investment.
They will also provide crucial advice for making the financial and strategic case to senior management. The assessment and advice may cover:
Integrating automation solutions with your other production processes is also where automation partners excel. They tend to have a broader outlook, using their experience to ask about your business challenges and where automation can add as much value and advantages as possible – rather than just installing a machine for limited benefits. It’s also worth noting the cost of automation and robotics is decreasing, as it is used in more and more industry sectors. Contrast this to other business costs like materials and energy.
Investment in automation should be part of a wider, well considered manufacturing strategy. Clearly, this should be aligned to the overall business strategy. Partial automation – automating some production processes – rather than full automation, is a more realistic goal for some and a good starting point for small manufacturers.
The Full Flexibility Robots Offer
For any manufacturing company, large or small, to purchase new plant and equipment a compelling business case needs to be made to justify the investment. But when it comes to bespoke automation and robotics, many companies struggle with the concept of introducing technologies such as this and identifying the criteria necessary to build a solid business case. More...
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A range of organisations exist who can provide additional information to help small manufacturers make the leap:
International Society of Automation
British Automation and Robot Association
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