Automating vs. Outsourcing – what is best for your company?

Aug 9, 2013

Manufacturing with automated industrial robots help production lines stay competitive. Automation helps manufacturers stay flexible and perform on several different applications. The industrial robot systems can also be upgraded with vision and sensor guidance to further improve their precision. All of this helps a manufacturer save time and money and allow for less downtime.


When com­pa­nies are look­ing at their man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices, there is one thing that needs to hap­pen above all oth­ers – they need to be able to stay com­pet­i­tive. For com­pa­nies try­ing to keep their com­pet­i­tive edge, automat­ing ver­sus out­sourc­ing might become a top­ic for discussion.

There are many advan­tages to out­sourc­ing and automat­ing, accord­ing to Assem­bly Mag­a­zine. As pro­duc­tion lines begin to man­u­fac­ture short­er and short­er runs of items before they change or are updat­ed, man­u­fac­tur­ers may send some assem­bly or fab­ri­ca­tion work out to a third-par­ty manufacturer.

With a third-par­ty man­u­fac­tur­er, the out­sourced work may be cheap­er to pro­duce, which means less cost to the orig­i­nal com­pa­ny for mate­ri­als and labor costs. Of course, when look­ing at out­sourc­ing as opposed to automa­tion, you must real­ize that with out­sourc­ing, com­pa­nies are tak­ing a risk as well. Their prod­ucts are being made off-site, and they have no qual­i­ty con­trol or say over these mate­ri­als or labor prac­tices being used dur­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing. That is not the case with automation.

In the argu­ment of out­sourc­ing vs. automat­ing, some may say that the ini­tial cost of automat­ing is the main dis­ad­van­tage. The cost of automat­ing appli­ca­tions in house is so high that it may not be effec­tive, pro­po­nents of out­sourc­ing may say. How­ev­er, many times, that is not the case.

Automa­tion allows man­u­fac­tur­ers to inte­grate one or mul­ti­ple indus­tri­al robots into their pro­duc­tion lines, work­ing in con­junc­tion with their work­ers. These robots may cost thou­sands of dol­lars, but their flex­i­bil­i­ty and ver­sa­til­i­ty saves com­pa­nies mon­ey with­in the first year, in most cases.

Auto­mat­ed robots can per­form sev­er­al dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions, instead of per­form­ing just one or two. They can also be fit­ted with vision and sen­sor guid­ance sys­tems, mean­ing that they can adapt to the chang­ing prod­uct lines with­out need­ing to be rebuilt and repro­grammed over and over again as the prod­uct changes. This saves the man­u­fac­tur­er time and mon­ey, as well as allow­ing for less down­time dur­ing production.

All in all, there is no defin­i­tive way for any­one to say whether third par­ty out­sourc­ing is bet­ter than automa­tion or vice ver­sa. Instead, it is up to the man­u­fac­tur­er to research and decide which path is best for their business.

If man­u­fac­tur­ers do decide to auto­mate their prac­tices, they can con­tact Robots​.com for all their inte­gra­tion needs. Robots​.com is a cer­ti­fied inte­gra­tor for Fanuc, Motoman, ABB, Uni­ver­sal Robots, and KUKA robot­ic sys­tems. Our staff works with man­u­fac­tur­ers to find the best auto­mat­ed sys­tem for their facility.

For more infor­ma­tion on automat­ing with Robots​.com vs. out­sourc­ing, con­tact us today online or at 8777626881.

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