Unlike when humans used to handle every factory activity, many companies are currently run by robots and other machines. The human population is increasing by the day, and so does demand. For this reason, companies are always looking for ways to satisfy their customers and meet their needs.
Regarding client satisfaction, there might not be a better way to increase production and delivery than using machinery and robots. This technology makes things easier and faster. It also eradicates the chances of human workers sustaining severe injuries from falls, slips, or lifting heavy objects. Factory automation is also reliable and unlikely to make mistakes.
Suppose you’re looking forward to taking your factory a notch higher with automation. Continue reading this article to gain the necessary knowledge.
- Identify The Process To Automate
The first step in implementing a factory automation system is to identify the manufacturing process that needs to be automated. This process can be any repetitive task that is currently performed by your staff. By automating this process, manufacturers can improve their productivity and reduce labor costs.
It is important to choose the right process to automate, as some are better suited for automation than others. Some criteria for selecting the process to automate include the following:
- Repetitive: The process must be repetitive, with a high degree of repeatability, consistency, and accuracy.
- High Volume: The process must be high volume, meaning that it must be performed frequently to justify the cost of automation.
- Dangerous: The process may be dangerous or pose a risk to human workers, such as handling hazardous materials.
- Labor Intensive: The process must be labor-intensive, meaning that it requires a lot of manual labor, which can be replaced by machines.
Examples of processes that can be automated include assembly lines, material handling, packaging, and quality control. If you need further assistance in identifying what process to focus on, it’s better to undergo automation consulting with a reliable service provider.
- Define The Objectives And Set A Budget
The second step in implementing a factory automation system is to define the objective and set a budget. It is important to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Some examples of objectives for implementing a factory automation system include the following:
- Increase productivity by 50% within six months.
- Reduce labor costs by 30% within one year.
- Improve product quality by reducing defects by 75% within two years.
In addition to setting objectives, it is important to set a budget for the project. Factors to consider when setting a budget include equipment, software, and implementation costs.
- Choose The Right Technology
The third step in implementing a factory automation system is to choose the right technology. Several types of technology are used in factory automation, including robotics, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and sensors. When choosing the technology, manufacturers must consider several factors, including the following:
- Compatibility: The technology must be compatible with the existing manufacturing equipment and processes.
- Reliability: The technology must be reliable, with a low failure rate and a high mean time between failures (average time between system breakdowns).
- Flexibility: The technology must be flexible, with the ability to adapt to changes in the manufacturing process.
- Cost: The technology must be cost-effective, with a good return on investment (ROI).
Examples of technologies used in factory automation include robotic arms, conveyor systems, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
- Design The System And Develop The Software
The fourth step in implementing a factory automation system is to design the system and develop the software. The system design should be based on the automated process requirements and the chosen technology. The system design should include the equipment layout, the sensors’ placement, and the software’s integration.
The software should be designed to control and monitor the manufacturing process, providing real-time data on the equipment’s performance and the product’s quality. The software should be user-friendly and able to be modified as needed.
- Implement The System And Train Employees
Implementation involves the installation of the equipment, the integration of the software, and the testing of the system. During the implementation phase, it is important to ensure that the equipment and software work together seamlessly.
Once the system is operational, employees must be trained to use the new equipment and software. The training should include an explanation of how the equipment and software work and how to troubleshoot any problems that may arise.
- Monitor And Evaluate The System
The final step in implementing a factory automation system is to monitor and evaluate the system. Monitoring involves collecting data on the equipment’s performance and the product’s quality. This data can be used to identify problems with the design and make any necessary adjustments.
Evaluation involves analyzing the data collected during monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the system. This analysis should include an assessment of the system’s ROI and its impact on productivity, labor costs, and product quality.
The future of factory automation is bright, with new technologies and software being developed all the time. As technology continues to advance, more and more manufacturers will likely turn to factory automation as a way to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.