Adoption within the Manufacturing Industry
Automation is the use of technology to produce and deliver parts with minimal human intervention. By integrating automated systems into the manufacturing process, you can improve efficiency, reliability, and repeatability of many tasks that were previously performed by humans, meaning their focus can now be redirected to less repetitive and more judgment-intensive activities.
By reducing scrap rates, production waste, and rework, automation contributes to continuous improvement and productivity gains. We hope to help inform and guide manufacturers that may be interested in automated solutions and can see the benefits that they could bring but remain hesitant about implementing them into their processes and will attempt to provide further information around the following questions:
- How can automation contribute to solving problems before they become critical to a company’s bottom line?
- How can productivity gains be effectively translated into the company’s operational and financial management?
- How can manufacturers learn more about these new technologies to leverage the potential of automation, and capitalise on the productivity gains that can be achieved in their day-to-day activities?
Controlling the upstream rather than correcting the downstream
More often than not, companies look for solutions to solve current and urgent problems that they are experiencing in the present moment and that have immediate consequences. Therefore, the corrective actions to solve these critical problems tends to be more reactive and taken mostly downstream of the production line.
A more effective approach would be to investigate the sequence of operations that led to non-conformity. By tracing the manufacturing process, they can identify upstream actions that will significantly reduce the downstream efforts needed to solve recurring problems. This in turn, will provide proactive and corrective solutions that can be deployed to eliminate quality problems once and for all.
To achieve this, automated control is key. Automation helps to establish where the anomalies lie as soon as they occur upstream before they become major defects downstream. This prevents errors from being multiplied and allows corrective actions to be taken before defective parts are produced and shipped to customers.
The unmistakable impact of productivity gains
Productivity gains obtained through automation can be devoted to improving product quality, responding to the lack of skilled workers, and accelerating the development and time-to-market for new products.
Creaform Survey Confirms Reasons to Implement Automated Control Quality (AQC)
When asked why they have opted to implement an AQC system into their manufacturing process, 43% of the respondents said they wanted to discover problems earlier so they could eliminate waste and rework, while 39% said they wanted to eliminate human error to help improve repeatability.
Survey reveals factors preventing the deployment of an AQC system
When asked what primarily prevented them from deploying an AQC system, 39% of respondents said it was a lack of employees with skills in robotics, while 36% said it was the expensive price and the lack of information about the return on investment (ROI).
To compensate for this lack of information about the ROI, Creaform questioned experts and found valid data on the costs of poor quality (COPQ), which are costs that would disappear if systems, processes, and products were perfect or if rejection rates were zero.
On average, rejection rates go from 0.6% of the business revenues for top-performing manufacturers to 2.2% for less-efficient manufacturers. Other sources also reveal that COPQ can account for as much as 5-30% of gross sales for manufacturing and service companies. Therefore, cutting only 1% of waste, scrap, or rework on a $50,000,000 business turnover can lead to $500,000 savings per year.
Improving product quality means reducing rejection rates, which are responsible for some of manufacturing companies’ most important financial losses. Moreover, at this pace, the investment required for an AQC solution could be paid off in a year or so.
Expertise in Robotics
To find out more about how the lack of employees with skills and expertise in robotics prevents project development, Creaform asked manufacturers which phase in the business that they were least comfortable with. Their answers, however, did not highlight a specific phase.
Based on this information, Creaform built an easy 3-step workflow to help manufacturing companies become more comfortable with new technologies, such as 3D scanners, robots, and automated systems, in order to eventually initiate a robotics project and thereby leverage the potential of automation.
Creaform identified 3 Steps to help Manufacturing companies to become comfortable with New Technologies
Identify tasks in your manufacturing process that need improvement and evaluate if automation is the right solution. Calculate your ROI based on the example above. It is important to note that automation is a great tool for continuous improvement, but sometimes moving from a manual tool (like a height gage or a micrometer) to a handheld 3D scanner can also offer productivity gains too.
Once a company finds a task which financially makes sense for automation, the second step is to choose the right technology to measure the parts. 3D scanning technologies provide fast metrology-grade results. Since important decisions will be made from the data gathered by the AQC solution, it is critical to choose the right technology. The MetraSCAN-R BLACK|Elite is designed to deliver highly accurate and repeatable results for parts, even on complex shapes or various material finishes, including highly shiny materials.
Finally, any issues faced with the design, or the integration phases should not stop a manufacturing company from moving forward with a robotics project. System integrators have the expertise to help Manufacturers to deploy a robotics system. However, even if a system integrator supports the design and integration phases, the company will still need to assume some project management tasks, in addition to paying for the engineering of the solution.
An alternative option would be to opt for a turnkey solution like the CUBE-R, which leverages the power of the MetraSCAN 3D-R. The CUBE-R is a high-productivity industrial measuring cell that is designed to be integrated into factories for at-line inspections without the need for a system integrator.
AQC for a Better Bottom Line
As manufacturing companies around the world implement automation into their quality control processes, they see the benefits of finding defects earlier in the manufacturing process and limiting human error. As they list fewer scrap parts, record less waste, and resort to minimal rework, their bottom line also improves.
To summarise, automation enhances the efficiency, reliability, and repeatability of manufacturing processes, enabling companies to reduce their production costs, deliver more and better-quality products to their customers, whilst also getting a return on their investment quickly and efficiently.
Article and survey produced by Creaform May 2022
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