Just about every market can find benefit in process automation. From labor reduction to improving the total time in production there is value in the automation. For some it is the need to improve part to part consistency or just the basic improvement in the over all finished product.
When you start to look into automation be it a finishing application, welding or any number of other processes labor tends to be at the top of the list. There are some things you should keep in mind as you go through the process.
I received many good questions on the robot working with enclosures. To that end I wanted to provide a little more information.
I get a constant flow of questions and in an effort to spread the info to those who may be curious about the same I am going to share a few more here.
When you look at automation one of the issues that comes up is money. Its the case with every aspect of life in some way and you have to be ready for it. You find a system you like and it will do the job so you are a bit excited to see an end to your problem process. Then you take it to the office only to have purchasing fall out of their chair. You have to look at the cost in context and not just as a number.
Having an example where automation made sense could be helpful. It may shed some light on what to look for and reasons to move to automate a process or part in general. I will have to limit the detail a bit to protect the parties involved and respect their wishes. But in a general sense it gives a picture of what was automated and the results.
Enclosure and sheet metal finishing has been one of the areas robots make sense. From blending the finish or grinding weld lines they are fast and flexible. One of the first issues you run in to when working with formed or fabricated parts is variation part to part. It can be the heat from welding or the tension in the material or any number of other factors. This has caused many a project to go off the rails. That is not an issue any longer and has been overcome. It was not a one answer solution by any means. It is a combination of fixtures and tools as well as sensors and the feed back loop in a machine. Having a system that can follow the part and deal with the variations is make these systems so efficient. Processing times can be cut to 10% of manual times in some cases with 3 times the speed being the norm. Lights out operation, QC checks, fixture checks, maintenance reminders, automated lubrication the list just goes on and on.
In some cases it comes down to "I don't know where to start" and that is what I want to touch on just a bit. Every case will have its own unique aspects but in a general sense the steps are much the same.
I had a few good questions sent to me on the last entry so I am going to give a bit of detail on one application to better show the process.