In today’s economy, manufacturers are always trying to increase their productivity in order to turn a needed profit. In most cases, this is done through innovation and creativity. With the use of modern factory automation products, it is possible for large-scale manufacturers to cut down on operating costs and increase work output at a faster pace.
Factory automation products work by taking on laborious tasks that require great attention and care. Machines that are used in integration with these products often have a faster rate of production than their human counterparts. They can perform a number of different functions without experiencing fatigue or boredom.
What is Factory Automation and Why Would You Want to Use it in Your Business?
Factory automation is a technology that makes industrial processes more productive and efficient while relieving human employees from dangerous, repetitive tasks. It’s the use of computers to control industrial operations such as manufacturing systems or other kinds of automated equipment.
Factory Automation can be used in many different areas: CAD/CAM, robotics engineering, process control, etc. Its main goal is saving time and money, but it can bring a lot of other benefits as well: increasing productivity, improving product quality and competitiveness in the global market, reducing labour costs by utilizing unattended equipment to perform tasks that people have been handling before.
The different types of products that are available for factory automation:
– Electric Switches
– Relays and Contactors
– Safety Systems
– Sensors, Transmitters and Pendants
– Feeders and Conveyors
– Actuant I/O Modules
– Cutler-Hammer Circuit Breakers
– Electrical Management Solutions (EMS) Products – Square D Circuit Breakers – Cooper Lighting Electronics – Panduit Cable Management & Clamps
How to get started with automating your factory
Automating your factory is easy. You just need to decide how you want to run your automation project and then implement the plan. Here are some tips on getting started with automating your factory:
- Determine Your Objectives
To get the most out of an automation project it’s important that you don’t try to do too much, too quickly. There are plenty of projects which fail because they set unattainable goals for themselves or they try to automate more than can be sustained (both in terms of budget and staff). As a result, many companies find that their investments in automation only pay off years down the road.
You should always keep one objective above all others in mind while planning your project: driving business value. That means:
– Identifying which processes need to be automated
– Reducing or eliminating human involvement in repetitive tasks
– Improving production rates by reducing time delays that are inherent to people
– Changing how you think about process capacity, not just capacity itself.
– Making sure your team is fully involved throughout the project.
Converting these objectives into a plan of action is where most automation projects go wrong, so make sure it’s well thought out before implementation starts – this will save everyone a lot of time, effort and money in the long run.
- Build Your Team
As far as possible, automation projects should be driven by existing personnel – it’s important that everyone understands what they are trying to achieve before any work begins on the details. The key people who need to be involved will depend largely on which processes you want to automate or where you’re hoping for significant improvements in production capacity, but everyone needs to agree on the objectives, so don’t leave anyone out.
- Identifying requirements
Once you’ve got everyone together, it’s time to work out which parts of your operation need changing; this is where experience comes into play. Here are some common areas where automation can have an impact:
- Material supply – Identify bottlenecks for raw materials and other inputs, then work out how your process changes will affect them. If the bottleneck is in supplier delivery times, for example, then look into improving things like a number of deliveries per day or reducing wait times between deliveries.
- Logistics – How many people do you have handling finished goods? What space do they need to bring products from production lines to storage areas? Is there a particular part of the process that consumes a large amount of time? The answers to these questions will help you identify which parts of your process are most likely to benefit from automation.
- Production controls – After identifying operations that might be suitable for automation, it’s time to consider if any existing equipment could be used or whether new equipment would be needed. This is a vital part of the planning process, as it will affect installation and set-up times. If existing equipment can be repurposed or modified to make automation possible, it could save you a lot of time and money over buying new machines!
- Standards compliance – Part of efficiency is reducing variability in your processes. You should use this as an opportunity to examine your current production standards – do they need updating? Are they too restrictive for current working conditions? Identifying areas where change is needed will improve your overall business efficiency, no matter how efficient your automated processes become.
- Keeping it simple
Once you have an idea of what process changes are needed, it’s time to start thinking about how to go about actually making the changes. If your plan involves building new machines or equipment, don’t forget that simpler is often better – there are lots of things to consider when planning a large piece of equipment but they can be broken down into smaller components for easier implementation. It’s also important to identify points in your production line where adding automation will cause minimal problems and choose those areas first.
Automation itself isn’t difficult but installation, set up and programming can take time, so make sure everything is ready before you start letting the automated processes do their thing.
When should you automate your factory?
Factory automation can be implemented at any stage of production, all the way from raw material to the final product; it depends on how much money you want to invest. If you are planning to manufacture a small lot of products, using Factory Automation technologies will probably not be practical for your business, but if you need large batches that require manual labour then I’d say it’s time to automate your factory. With this technology, you will drastically increase overall productivity and lower operational costs by removing error-prone human operations from manufacturing lines. The main goal is maximizing production rates by means of unattended machines in order to get better records on product information and stronger competitiveness against other businesses.
How much does it cost to automate a factory?
There are lots of Factory Automation Systems at varying prices. You can start with a production line using PC-based controls, which will be enough for small batches; then you may want to upgrade to more sophisticated PLCs (programmable logic controllers) that offer greater flexibility and performance.
Once your company starts growing, you’ll need Factory Automation departments that require additional equipment like lasers or robots; in this case, the price can easily go up to half a million dollars. It depends on individual requirements but in most cases, automation is not cheap.
Getting an automated factory will generate great savings when compared to manual operation since it allows us to reduce manufacturing costs by increasing productivity levels – which always lead to improved competition in the market. For companies in need of large lots that require manual labour, this is probably the best solution; it will drastically improve overall productivity and lower operational expenses by minimizing errors made by employees.
What are the benefits of automating a factory?
There are numerous benefits to Factory Automation, one of the most important is that it increases overall productivity and lowers operational costs by reducing the number of errors made by employees. By removing manual operation from processes, which ensures more precise manufacturing records and guarantees greater efficiency levels running automated systems without human interference; thus you won’t have to worry about spending more on increased up-time, which is always beneficial for any business.
The main goal behind its implementation is maximizing production rates by means of unattended machines; this ensures better product records and more competitiveness against other businesses.
Another benefit would be improved work conditions – once automation has been installed, workers will no longer need to work strenuous hours under high pressure. Employees can now rotate shifts and take breaks as needed without affecting production levels.
The overall aim when automating a factory is to increase efficiency while minimising labour costs. After identifying areas where automation is possible, you should consider existing equipment or look at how you might repurpose available kits in order to get the best, most cost-effective automation solution.
Even if you don’t intend to make use of factory automation straight away, these steps are good practice for any size of the company; taking control over production output can help you find new ways to cut costs and increase efficiency no matter what type of manufacturing environment you’re in. And when/if plans change in future, this approach allows fast implementation with very little disruption.
Just like any other part of your business operations, automation can cause issues if done badly. Take your time at each stage of the review process and try not to rush into anything. Even then, it’s vital that you stay aware of any problems that might crop up; it could save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in damage costs if you catch a problem before it becomes something bigger.
If you want to discuss factory automation, products or any other aspect of business process automation, SensorHaus can help you with what can be used to automate your business. For additional information please feel free to contact SensorHaus today! Click here for more information.