When choosing a solution to manufacture a product, one must analyze the Return on Investment (ROI) of the equipment purchases and system resources. One critical way in which manufacturing is modernizing is through the adoption of automation technologies. Automation reduces labor costs, by freeing up repetitive manual functions with an automated controller, and improves process stability, increasing machine uptime and reducing the risks of a flawed product. These qualities, as well as the flexibility that automation provides a company, must be weighed when investigating automation choices.
The best way to maximize the ROI of an automated solution is to work with a company that focuses specifically on automation design, supply and support. This opens up a variety of equipment and processing options and allows access to engineering experience that can integrate each machine tool into a single organic system.
Automating a production line is not a trivial exercise. Equipment must be purchased, floor space dedicated, and operators/programmers trained. The level of planning that must be done up-front prior to any product anything physically moves can create cost and time demands that may seem overwhelming.
This is why a proper ROI analysis is crucial. Before time and money are invested in a product, take a look at the bigger picture. Define when the inflection points of the costs occur, and when the investment will hit a break-even point and begin to show profits.
How does the switch to Automation counterbalance its initial investment?
- Minimizing Costs: Most obviously, automation minimizes the costs of production. By transferring repetitive tasks from an operator to a programmable controller, automation reduces the labor required to manufacture each part. Automation also eliminates scrap produced by an operation. Higher precision and more consistent control over a process uses materials more efficiently; this means less waste, with higher throughput and consistency.
- Maximizing Uptime: Automation maximizes the uptime of your system. It is not necessary to halt execution of a process for an operator to load, or unload, parts. Fully automated systems will smoothly hand off parts from process to process. This efficiency gives the manufacturer the capability of lights-out execution with automated systems. Systems can run 24/7 with minimal observation required. Many systems can be remotely monitored and will even call or page an operator if a situation arises that falls outside of the normal operating bounds.
- Reducing Risks: Automation controls the quality of a system, producing consistent and reliable parts under known time constraints and limits. A manual operator can have an off day, or his attention can be diverted during a critical process, putting the quality of the active parts at risk and slowing down the system as a whole. With automation, every part is pre-programmed to be within a specific tolerance of every other part, both within a batch, and from one batch to the next. Many systems are self-monitoring so that they will let the operator know when it requires maintenance or needs a slight adjustment to maintain its own quality. Saving money and time and improving your ROI.
Automation is a critical component in the success of American manufacturing. With every technological advancement, the ROI rapidly improves, cutting down the time to recover costs and bringing profitability to your product.