automate your production
Automate your production: reduce manual and repetitive work
Are you looking for new ways to boost your company's production? Then automation could be an efficient solution. It might also give your most experienced and ambitious employees more time for operational work, learning new techniques and carrying out quality checks. In addition, it may also help to reduce your insurance premiums.
The benefits of automating many operations in your workshop cannot be compared to those in large industrial production facilities. Yet, automation can yield positive and productive results that help simplify repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This for workshops of any size!
What should business and production managers focus on? And what you need to know when planning for change.
We looked at the ways manufacturers are succeeding with automation today.
Automation in manufacturing saves workers a lot of time and helps companies of all sizes stay competitive. In addition, the shortage of talent in manufacturing has become a real problem. The current demand for production capacity is greater than the supply of labour, and this is only expected to increase. A 2018 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that the skills gap will leave an estimated 2.4 million jobs unfilled by 2028, with a potential economic impact of 2.2 billion Euros.
Smaller and local workshops find it harder to compete with larger machine shops that can afford more experienced and expensive talent. But automation can provide an effective solution by compensating labour shortages through automated machines that take over routine and manual tasks. In some cases, a single machine operator can operate multiple machines and each machine can perform multiple operations simultaneously. The result is an exponential increase in production and a significant reduction in costs.
"Automation designed to the needs of workplaces not only emphasises quick and easy integration and the trimming of set-up times to 15 minutes or less, but is also multi-functional for the processing of different types of workpieces. In this way, automatic finishing machines are also ideally suited to the finishing of customised workpieces. This frees up machine operators to perform secondary tasks, such as assembly and more accurate quality checks", explains Dieter Dendauw - general manager of VG Machines.
Experienced metalworkers may appreciate having to spend less time on manual deburring and surface finishing, and more time completing large jobs and following up the production.
Dieter outlines how increased automation is having an impact within the sheet metal industry, including:
- Financial benefit through increased production capacity.
- Saving space in a limited work area.
- Improved quality of workpieces because workers have more time for quality checks.
- The ability to win more orders through competitive bidding due to more predictable machine planning and cost.
How to manage automation in your production?
It's all about workpiece volumes! But this doesn't mean that automation is ineffective in an environment where the number of pieces varies enormously.
Large volumes with little or no variation in the number of work pieces
In a medium-volume production line where parts are rarely or never changed, it's all about the machining cycle time of a single work piece. The shorter the machine cycle time, the faster the production and the lower the production cost per unit. All the operator has to do is ensure an optimum supply of parts and effective quality control.
Smaller volumes with varying workpieces
Production lines with lower volumes and varying work pieces are also suitable candidates for automation. The most important consideration here is reducing set-up time.People are often fixated on the machining time, but if your volumes per work piece are so low that half of your time is spent setting up the machine, then it is advisable to focus on the changeover time. A deburring machine with automatic workpiece height read-out tackles the problems of varying workpieces and volumes. This eliminates a great number of manual measuring and setting operations, allowing the worker to focus on more meaningful work and thus make a contribution to the production optimisation.
Using automation to improve safety in the workplace and workers' health
Worker health and safety in the workplace are not the main reasons why manufacturers invest in automation, but they are additional beneficial factors.
By automating the deburring and finishing processes, you minimise the risk of injuries to your employees. Due to the presence of sharp edges and burrs, injuries are common when sheet metal is manually processed. Due to lost time and claims, these injuries cost companies a lot of money every year. In addition, investing in safety on the shop floor will also help to reduce your insurance premiums. So, a further reason to invest in automated processes!
Did you like this article?
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to our online newsletter and easily receive our exclusive content and cost-saving practical tips by email. Don't miss it!