Future of Automation in Manufacturing

Future of Automation in Manufacturing

We live in a developed world, and with the development of extremely sophisticated technology, robotics and automation have reached a tipping point. Robots today are capable of a wide range of tasks without much assistance from humans. The future of automation in manufacturing technologies will depend on how well iterative tasks are used and how well the skills of the workforce are improved.

It is expected that robots will replace a sizable portion of the global workforce. Automation is being used by many industries, like manufacturing and finance, to increase productivity, comfort, effectiveness, and visibility.

In a network with intense competition, automation in the future will improve consistency and connectivity. The future of computerization looks good because everything will be easy to get and easy to use.

Robotic Devices Used in Manufacturing

It's crucial to do your homework and comprehend what automation can do and how to use it best in your facility before embarking on the path to automation or investing in new automation systems. Automation can be added to a production line for safety reasons or as part of a larger plan to make it more productive and efficient.

By using industrial machinery to carry out repetitive manufacturing tasks like welding, material handling, and assembly, factory robotic automation frees up the human workforce to handle more complex requests. Fixed, programmable, and flexible automation are the various types. Flexible automation, which displays some degree of "flexibility" when supporting manufacturing because it can produce a range of part types or unit batches in a brief amount of time, is fundamentally based on robotics. Both types of automation—programmable and fixed—need manual input to create different kinds of goods.

The manufacturing process is changing as a result of various types of industrial robots. Here are a few illustrations:

  • Collaborative Robots. These were created specifically to work alongside workers in factories. Their main purpose is to complete tasks that need human supervision and cannot be completed by standard manufacturing robots because they are either too dangerous or too expensive. Examples of uses include moving objects from storage to the workplace using mechanical arms. Collaborative robots are designed to work closely with people; therefore, they have special safety features, including sensors that can detect obstructions and cause an emergency stop.
  • Self-governing mobile robots (ARMs). ARMs are industrial robots that can navigate industrial settings without human assistance. In order to "see" their environment and avoid obstructions and moving employees, they use artificial intelligence. Most of the time, they are used to move things, and they are often programmed to move big weights that would usually require a lot of people or strong equipment.
  • Industrial Robot Arms. Because they may be programmed to carry out a variety of activities on an assembly line, such as screwing bolts, welding, or painting, robot arms are one of the most popular types of flexible automation. They are frequently employed in factories that produce big items like autos. They are frequently used to transport bulky things between plants or to hold up products while they are being examined. They use a system that makes compressed air and sends it to an actuator or motor to move the arm.
  • Automated blacksmithing. A novel type of automation called robotic blacksmithing has the potential to displace existing production techniques like conventional machining and 3D printing. It shapes metals and other materials using specialized tools, robotic arms, and sensors. The lasers are utilized to reshape the entire component after the sensors assist the robot in detecting its shape. The main benefit of robotic blacksmithing is that it makes better and more efficient use of resources.
  • Machine-vision-equipped robots. other kinds of robots can now conduct routine checks thanks to machine vision technology. One of the most tiresome processes in the production process is quality control, which can be automated with the aid of robots with machine vision, such as quality control robots. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used by quality control robots to inspect parts and find problems, freeing up human labor for more difficult problems.

The Role of Robotics and Automation in the Factory of the Future

The advent of factory automation is already altering how we conduct business. Automation is advancing in almost every industry, from the automobile to electronics to food processing, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Manufacturers are continually looking for new technologies and tactics that might help their facility keep up with the changes as they try to stay competitive in this quickly changing market. You might wish to take these trends in manufacturing automation into account as you plan the future of your facility.

High throughput and continuous motion

Fractions of a second are important in sophisticated automation systems. High speed and high throughput are expected to become more crucial as more manufacturers adopt automation or invest in more automated processes. Continuous motion, where tooling and vision work together to improve cycle rates to higher speeds than could ever be attained with manual labor, is something that many businesses are moving toward. Continuous motion has advantages such as decreased downtime, improved cycle rates, and better throughput.

Integrations of software and data systems

Automated production lines generate more data as they get more sophisticated. Manufacturers are starting to prioritize and analyze data from the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to make strategic planning decisions for their production processes. In order to track trends, monitor facilities, and identify problem areas, more firms will try to analyze their data in great detail. The requirement for data to track their parts and goods grows along with the throughput.

Performance vision system

Advanced vision applications, which are connected to the big data movement, generate additional data about the quality of the product that manufacturers can use to identify problematic components or regions. Moving away from hardware sensors, manufacturing businesses can now modernize their inspection procedures using high-speed cameras or 3D imaging. Advanced vision systems combine hardware and software to teach AI systems how to find flaws. Quality analysts and process engineers can use this information to streamline operations and cut down on waste and mistakes.

Decreased employee contact with parts and products

Production lines will reduce the contact between humans and products even more in the future. For better cleanliness, for instance, the food and beverage industries will look for ways to reduce human contact with food. Manufacturers will keep reducing the number of workers on the line while retraining them to perform manual activities like supervision or dexterous skills that cannot be automated. Automation makes it possible for more and more facilities to run 24/7 because it is more reliable and needs less downtime.

Falling costs for robots

The price of robots has decreased as output has increased. The average robot price has decreased significantly relative to labor costs over the past 30 years, falling by half on a real-world basis. Robotics manufacturing is anticipated to move to cheaper regions as a result of demand from rising nations, making them even more affordable.

Accessible talent

Additionally, there are more people available who possess the necessary abilities to design, install, run, and maintain robotic manufacturing systems. Engineers in robotics were formerly an expensive and specialized field. These topics are now frequently taught in classrooms at universities and schools around the globe, either as separate courses or as a component of a more comprehensive curriculum on manufacturing technologies or engineering design for manufacture. Engineering time and risk have been decreased by the accessibility of software such as simulation packages and offline programming tools that can test robotic applications. Additionally, it has reduced the cost and ease of programming robots.

Added abilities

Robot intelligence is also increasing. The most recent generations of robots may combine data from many sensors and change their movements in real time, as opposed to earlier generations that followed the same path mindlessly and subsequent iterations that employed lasers or vision systems to determine the orientation of parts and materials. As an illustration, they can use force feedback to simulate a craftsman's competence in grinding, deburring, or polishing applications. They can also leverage more potent computer hardware and big data analytic techniques. For example, if they use spectral analysis to check the quality of a weld as it is being made, they can greatly reduce the number of inspections that need to be done after the product is made.

Robots take on new roles

The adoption of robots in the types of applications where they already excel, such as repetitive, high-volume industrial tasks, is currently being boosted by these considerations. It is expected that the types of businesses presently utilizing robots will utilize them even more as the cost and complexity of automating jobs using robots decrease. But in the next five to ten years, we anticipate a more significant shift in the kinds of jobs for which robots are both technically and financially feasible.

Extremely diverse duties

Robots will be able to handle a far higher level of task-to-task unpredictability thanks to developments in artificial intelligence and sensor technologies. Automation opportunities will arise in industries like the processing of agricultural goods, where there is a high degree of part-to-part variability as a result of organisms' ability to modify their behavior in response to changes in their environment. Experiments have already shown that robots can cut the time it takes to pick strawberries by up to 40% by using a stereoscopic vision system to find the fruit and judge how ripe it is.

The same skills will propel quality advancements across all industries. Robots will be able to make up for any possible manufacturing-related quality problems. Examples here include choosing and combining various-sized components to achieve the desired final dimensions or adjusting the force needed to combine two parts based on the dimensional variations between them.

Robot-generated data and the more sophisticated analysis methods to better utilize them will be helpful in comprehending the fundamental factors that influence quality. Changes can be made to manufacturing methods to find and fix these problems during production. For example, if higher-than-normal torque needs during assembly are found to be linked to early product failures in the field, manufacturing methods can be changed to find and fix these problems.

Complex challenges

Some modern robot configurations have repeatable precision of 0.02 millimeters, while general-purpose robots can now regulate their movement to within 0.10 millimeters. Even higher degrees of precision are likely to be provided by upcoming generations. They will be able to take part in increasingly delicate chores like threading needles or assembling very complex technological devices thanks to these abilities. Now that there are controllers that can move dozens of axes at once, many robots can work together on the same task, which makes robot coordination better.

Finally, cutting-edge sensor technology and the computing capacity required to evaluate the data from those sensors will enable robots to perform formerly labor-intensive jobs like cutting jewels. The same technologies might even make it possible to perform tasks that are currently impossible, such as "painting" electrical circuits on the surfaces of structures or instantly altering the composition or thickness of coatings as they are applied to account for variations in the underlying material.

7th Jan 2023

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