Automated manufacturing systems operate in the factory on the physical product. They perform operations such as processing, assembly, inspection, or material handling, in some cases accomplishing more than one of these operations in the same system.
They are called automated because they perform their operations with a reduced level of human participation compared with the corresponding manual process. In some highly automated systems, there is virtually no human participation.
Companies undertake projects in manufacturing automation and computer-integrated manufacturing for a variety of good reasons. Some of the reasons used to justify automation are listed below. Of course, there are many other reasons, so feel free to add your reasons below in the comment box.
Also, I’ve put few interesting videos with latest news in automation of manufacturing processes at the bottom of this article. Enjoy!
1. To increase labor productivity
Automating a manufacturing operation usually increases production rate and labor productivity. This means greater output per hour of labor input.
2. To reduce labor cost
Ever-increasing labor cost has been and continues to be the trend in the world’s industrialized societies. Consequently, higher investment in automation has become economically justifiable to replace manual operations.
Machines are increasingly being substituted for human labor to reduce unit product cost. While this is not good for people, it’s good enough for production. Sad but true, isn’t it?
3. To mitigate the effects of labor shortages
There is a general shortage of labor in some countries, and this has stimulated the development of automated operations as a substitute for labor.
4. To reduce or eliminate routine manual and clerical tasks
An argument can be put forth that there is social value in automating operations that are routine, boring, fatiguing, and possibly irksome. Automating such tasks serves a purpose of improving the general level of working conditions.
5. To improve worker safety
By automating a given operation and transferring the worker from active participation in the process to a supervisory role, the work is made safer. The safety and physical well-being of the worker has become a national objective with the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. This has provided an impetus for automation.
6. To improve product quality
Automation not only results in higher production rates than manual operations. It also performs the manufacturing process with greater uniformity and conformity to quality specifications. Reduction of fraction defect rate is one of the chief benefits of automation.
7. To reduce manufacturing lead time
Automation helps to reduce the elapsed time between customer order and product delivery, providing a competitive advantage to the manufacturer for future orders. By reducing manufacturing lead time, the manufacturer also reduces work-in-process inventory.
8. To accomplish processes that cannot be done manually
Certain operations cannot be accomplished without the aid of a machine. These processes have requirements for precision, miniaturization, or complexity of geometry, that cannot be achieved manually.
Examples include certain integrated circuit fabrication operations, rapid prototyping processes based on computer graphics (CAD) models, and the machining of complex, mathematically defined surfaces using computer numerical control. These processes can only be realized by computer controlled systems.
9. To avoid the high cost of not automating
There is a significant competitive advantage gained in automating a manufacturing plant. The advantage cannot easily be demonstrated on a company’s project authorization form.
The benefits of automation often show up in unexpected and intangible ways, such as in improved quality, higher sales, better labor relations, and better company image. Companies that do not automate are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage with their customers, their employees, and the general public.
Highlights of the HANNOVER MESSE 2015
Hannover Messe 2015 presents solutions and technologies for electrification, automation, and digitalization achieved in 2015.
BMW F30 3-Series Factory Production Tour
Watch how the new BMW F30 3-Series is manufactured from start to finish in Munich, Germany.
The Future of Factory Automation
Since the 1970 factories have become ever more automated. In this episode Allison and Vince look at current trends in factory automation and show how networked facilities are changing the landscape of manufacturing.
Automate 2015 – Best Robot Displays
Automate 2015 was held at the McCormick center in Chicago. It is a biennial trade show and conference that is the largest solutions-oriented trade show for robotics and production automation. This video is a compilation of some of the vendors’ demonstrations from the first day of the show.
Reference // Industrial Automation – Course Notes by David O’Sullivan