Have clear goals. Knowing what automation will offer to the company, at an early stage it is essential to have a clear understanding of the targets related to the budget
Understanding of processes
Once the target of the project has been decided, it is essential to map the company production processes. Automation is not easy and failed projects have one thing in common: a lack of understanding of how operational processes integrate within the company. Problems can arise when automating a portion of operations without knowing how it will adapt to other production areas.
From the earliest stages of the automation journey, it is important to map roles and responsibilities. Precisely define who within the company will provide updates to interested parties. Without clear organization, automation projects can falter. Results can be reached through maximum communication between all the parties involved, from the workshop to the management.
Resistance to automation projects is natural and can occur from those within the company responsible for managing key phases, it is crucial to have a strategy for managing personnel from the earliest stages of the project, including how to keep everyone informed and fully involved with a sense of collective responsibility.
A decisive key is to choose to start with small areas, where automation guarantees a marked improvement in results. Prototype solutions on a small scale to verify their actual functioning and then be able to replicate them in other production areas.
If you are considering adopting automation systems, Whitech can help you in achieving your goals. Let’s get in touch today for a specific assessment.
Integrating automation and robotics systems into production processes is not a task to be carried out independently, consulting and integration partners can identifying the most functional solutions for specific operations and consciously adapting them into the factory.
The following steps show the automation identification process and how to integrate it
1. Focus on processes
Whether it is integrating automation or making changes to operations, the needs of the end user always come first. Lean manufacturing focuses on bringing maximum value to the customer, focus automation efforts on creating what he needs.
Focus on flexibility and alternatives, prefer the choice of light and modular solutions. Locking the manufacturing facility into single-function automated systems can become costly if market demand evolves and product requirements change.
To set up the workflow, distribute responsibilities equally among multiple people. It is risky for the whole organisation to rely on the operation of a single machine or person. Manufacturing facilities need to develop the ability to adapt to change, including the absence of personnel or machinery under maintenance.
It is essential to create a routine that the organisation can use and that improves productivity and reduces waste.
2. Examine the staff
People close to automated systems are the key. It is important to identify people with knowledge, experience and expertise who can facilitate the process. These people can include external consultants.
By making changes, it is essential to keep the communications with the operators open and continuous, building a culture of excellence. For example, it is important for people to feel that they are vital parts of the structure changes. By providing input, they can help improve facility efficiency, and ongoing training instructs on how to best work in a new automated facility.
3. Tools and technology
The tools and technology to choose are to be conceived to support operators as well as to improve production and profit efficiency. Automation should support employee work rather than the other way around. By using automation as a means of improving operations rather than focusing the facility to support new machinery, higher productivity can be achieved with lower costs.
Another tool to consider when implementing lean automation is the training: educating workers on how to best use automated machinery to improve their work and business productivity. Training should include the implementation of new routines to reduce wasted time and improve product quality.
By using these strategies in planning a lean automation transition, you can make the transition less expensive by making the most of the productivity gains it brings.
By implementing LEAN production techniques, it is possible to achieve a reduction of waste and an improvement in productivity. However, simply knowing the principles of LEAN manufacturing is not enough. It is essential to be able to bring the guiding lines of this production method into your own facility. This implementation process can also include automation. With an initial investment in the right systems, cost savings and profits increasings can be easily achieved.
What lean automation actually is?
The core of LEAN production is a change in the way of thinking: instead of improving the productivity of individual processes, the general picture of improving the value that customers obtain from products must be the target; at the same time, the focus is also on containing and reducing costs.
This concept of ambivalent attention to the customer and company costs must always be applied by integrating automation. With these two cornerstones it is possible to automate even the smallest productions, doing it gradually by integrating lean principles into the existing structure, reducing costs and delivery times while gradually automating processes.
The benefits of LEAN automation in manufacturing
By choosing to integrate LEAN automation into production facilities, processes become faster and more efficient. If correctly done, adding automation can lead to multiple benefits such as:
1. Security increasing
Worker safety should be paramount throughout the manufacturing industry. By automating dangerous processes, is possible to achieve greater safety and fewer errors in production. For example, an automated storage and retrieval system keeps operators out of hotspots where can occur accidents and collisions with forklifts. This system also reduces human errors in product picking or storage.
2. Reduction of delivery times
Another way to use automation for the benefit of operations is to study solutions starting from the layout of the warehouse or production area. With a big general picture at the very beginning of the project, the systems are designed to make the movements of the operators minimal or zero as well as ergonomic.
3. Improvement of accuracy
By choosing to automate, larger quantities of products can be produced more effectively at lower costs. It is also important not to focus on creating a specific model. The combination of approaches and technologies can bring to the best of waste reduction and maximization of cost savings. For example, automating assembly processes can help in reducing manufacturing errors and wasted time on rework.
4. Cost reduction
Cost cutting is the biggest benefit for automation and LEAN manufacturing. By using automated systems wisely, reducing costs is automatic. One way to reduce costs without sacrificing operator time is by adopting robots. Robots reduce the human effort and investment required while human workers can maintain the desired level of quality.
Robotic systems may be a relatively new concept for some manufacturing sectors, although the technology has been around for decades. By combining traditional production methods with more advanced forms of technology, companies can exponentially increase their production rates and profits.
Robots have greatly improved industrial production, automation is constantly expanding, improving the productivity and success of organizations that decide to adopt it.
Robots, in the majority of cases, are applied to perform repetitive tasks, which simplifies the overall assembly workflow. Robots also collaborate with humans to produce products, especially in tasks that are dangerous or that include the use of materials that can be harmful to human workers.
Even in the short term, operators can get tired or distracted due to the repetitive nature of some tasks, this often leads to errors. Robots, by their nature, completely eliminate this kind of error.
A study by market research firm Vanson Bourne revealed that 23% of unplanned downtime in manufacturing occurs due to human error. This number is particularly relevant when compared to 9% of downtime in other industries. Manufacturing suffers more than most fields when it comes to human error, as it’s not uncommon for a single problem to slow or disrupt an entire assembly line.
These are some of the benefits of using robots in manufacturing:
Over the past decades, these machines have steadily increased in the number of applications and in efficiency. While many see them as modern wonders, robotic manufacturing systems have been around for much longer. Inventor George Devol filed a patent for the first industrial robot in 1954, and the prototype came to life in 1961. It looked and worked much like today’s robotic arms, capable of manipulating 230 kg and performing tasks once believed. impossible for humans.
Now, robots are equipped with numerous features and capabilities that make them unique, flexible and productive to the max. Here, some ways they are evolving:
1. Production with lights off
Light-off manufacturing allows robots to work without any interference. This term is common among factories with few, if any, human workers – machines run the manufacturing process from start to finish. Some manufacturers may find this concept easier to implement than others, but those who integrate it into their operations tend to see a marked improvement in productivity and labor costs. Businesses practicing this strategy may also experience better energy efficiency due to less need for climate control and additional lighting.
2. Internet of Things capabilities
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects physical devices with Internet applications, such as cloud-based software, to make them smarter and more aware of their surroundings. Robotics manufacturers are merging the two by equipping robots with sensors that allow them to read their environment. These tools are used to collect external information. A robot that could predict the impending failure of another machine or inform production managers of its upcoming maintenance schedule would bring innovation on an unprecedented scale.
3. Transformation in information security
The use of artificial intelligence and cloud-connected robotics within the company can make a difference in the challenges with competitors, but it can also make the business more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Increased cybersecurity is a major trend in robotics, and for many good reasons.
The responsibility for safety lies primarily with the robot manufacturer, integrator and operator. Offensive and defensive security, which involves testing vulnerabilities and installing security controls, can safeguard these machines from outside interference. A technique that requires a team approach by integrators and operators.
If you are considering adopting robotic manufacturing systems but don’t know where to start, Whitech can help you in evaluating your goals and achieving them.
Let’s get in touch today for a specific evaluation.
Industrial automation and robotics represent a natural evolution of companies and operators’ work. In those phases of the process where the contribution of the human being does not add value to the final product, it does not express technique, experience or knowledge, in procedures like handling, enslavement or standard processes the robot or automation in general take over as a reliable partners, efficient and safe.
For more competitive companies and new jobs for workers, always in safety.
Our team during the offer phase analyses the entire production process together with the customer in order to provide an accurate data of the ROI (return of investment) relating to all types of intervention, from the most extensive ones that can affect the entire production line to the more sectoral.
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Landed on the portal with a selection of our best products for the Robotics and Handling Departments.
Celebrating 25 years of robot integrations
A story in pictures of some of the most significant robots used to integrate our systems over the past 25 years.