Tech

What’s the fuss about using Robots in Manufacturing?

The world of manufacturing is not only changing, but it’s also getting more intelligent and more hi-tech. Nowadays, factories are no longer filled with dirt, and more and more workers are now tech-savvy. All this can be accredited to the use of robotics in manufacturing plants. As robots become less costly to purchase, manufacturers can incorporate robots into their production lines. As a result, efficiency, the bottom line and productivity is increased.

So, does this increased use of manufacturing robots mean a reduction of the human workforce?

Au contraire. There are some applications in the manufacturing plant that still require a human workforce. As such, it’s safe to say that robots have not come to take jobs away from skilled human workers. Robots are simply taking up more menial and repetitive tasks such as driving screws in machines etc.

Benefits and Drawbacks of using Robots  

Robots are now being used in different industries, for example, the automobile industry and metal forging & plastic processing industries. If you have repetitive operations, then robots will do the job perfectly without compromising on quality.

Robots are also quite valuable for manufacturing high-volume productions. Even so, with technological advancement and the decline in robot costs, robots are used in small and medium-sized companies. This is because they have many advantages, like assisting manufacturers in addressing critical business challenges faced.

Other advantages of using robots include:

1.   Better consistency and quality 

Manufacturing robots like those used in 3D printing or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) have been known to give better consistency and quality as opposed to the human workforce. This, in turn, creates reduced turnover time as well as live monitoring.

2.    Maximum throughput and productivity

Industrial robots also increase the manufacturing process speed thank to their ability to work 24/7. Robots do not need to work in shifts or breaks. Their dependability and speed eventually improves protective maintenance practices and decreases cycle times.

3.    Superior safety

When robots are used to handle repetitive tasks, it means there are fewer work-related injuries. Such injuries are caused by fatigue, often brought about by monotony or hostile conditions. What’s more, supervisors can oversee the robot workings online, even from remote areas.

4.    Lessened labour cost

Hiring a single person to manage different manufacturing operations is costly in the long run. Using robots means having one person manage the robot’s operations remotely. That way, the other human workforce can be used in other areas like maintenance, programming and engineering.

5.    Encouraging manufacturing in the country

The use of robots doesn’t mean fewer jobs for human workers. It actually creates more work by encouraging manufacturing in the country they are used in. This, in turn, generates more employment because robots cannot do it all.

Even with the above-listed benefits, robots also come with drawbacks. They include:

·         High investment costs

Owning a robot is not a cheap investment, and your pockets will feel the pinch. That is why proper research is necessary before purchase. That way, you will have an idea of the cost and be able to budget accordingly. While researching, check to see if the robot can be modified with ease in case operations get changed in the future.

·         Scarce expertise

Industrial robots require a sophisticated operation, programming and maintenance. While the number of humans having these skills is on the rise, they are still limited. This is compared to the number of robots getting introduced in new industries. That is why personnel investment should be considered, too, when intending to purchase a robot.

·         Ongoing costs

Even though industrial robots reduce labour costs associated with manufacturing, they still have other expenses—for example, maintenance of the robots. Additionally, there are upkeep costs for keeping robots and IIoT related devices safe from malware, hackers and other cyber-threats.

·         Time consumed getting the machines to work.

After buying a robot, it might not be a plug-and-play type of robot. You may require even up to 3 months to have it up and running. This means training engineers and operators on how to interact with the robots. In these months, you also have to keep business going, which means paying human workers to do the job.

·         Sabotage

Sometimes, not all workers will take well being replaced by robots. As such, you find that some try to sabotage robot operations. This becomes expensive because production might get halted, thereby creating a back long and affecting the bottom line.

Types of robots found in manufacturing plants

  • Articulated robots

These roots are categorized according to their number of axes or rotation points, such as the 4, 7 and 6-axis robots. They are also most suitable for tasks like machine tending. This is owing to their reach, agility and flexibility. Moreover, they have protective sleeves and sealed joints which enable them to work in dirty and clean environments. Its sophistication is what makes it more expensive than other robots.

  • v Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm robots

More commonly referred to as SCARA, these robots are cost-effective and a good choice for tasks between two parallel planes. For example, moving parts to a conveyor belt from trays. These robots excel in vertical assembly lines thanks to their upright rigidity. They are also lightweight with small footprints, thus being suitable for use in crowded spaces.

  • Delta Robots

Also called “spider robots”, Delta robots have three motors mounted at the base. That way, the arm’s control is actuated. These robots come in 3, 4 and 6 axis models. Their arms are lightweight, enabling rapid movement. This makes these robots more suitable for high-speed manufacturing. Its working range diameter defines the delta’s reach.

  • Cartesian robots

These are made up of a minimum of three linear actuators brought together to fit a specific application. You can elevate Cartesian robots to maximize your floor space. When these robots are raised above parallel rails, they are called “gantry robots”. They use mounting brackets and average linear actuators.

Conclusion

You must understand robotics and have a rough idea of how they work and the different types. That way, you will know what you want and need as far as your business is concerned.

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