Machinery automation will improve a company’s competitive advantage, reduce production costs, and improve product quality. The most obvious benefit of automation is that it saves labor costs and takes manual workers out of hazardous environments, but it also saves energy and materials while improving accuracy and precision.
Two types of automation include feedback control and sequence control. Feedback control is continuous and involves taking measurements with a sensor and making adjustments. Sequential control is used when a programmed sequence of operations is performed. Usually a single computer will provide both feedback and sequence control in an industrial application.
Common mistakes are made when purchasing automated machinery. First, the manufacturer needs to ensure that a detailed equipment specification will define his expectations. Companies should also consider the technical expertise required to maintain the equipment on a daily basis. Companies should also consider the economic impact of how frequently the product mix changes. The system should be able to accommodate future change without having to start from scratch each time.
Engineered Machined Products (EMP) partnered with FANUC to design robotic systems to maximize their productivity. Together they developed a solution for high-volume machining operations. The Toploader series of FANUC articulated gantry robots reduce floor space and provide six-axis dexterity for operations such as degating, deglashing, labeling, packaging, and palletizing. The M-710iT Toploader was the model chosen to service eight machine portals.
The FANUC R2000iA/165F robot is also used in several machining cells at EMP’s factories. A machining cell that processes water pump impellers contains two of these models along with two FANUC 2-D Vision systems. Success with these machining operations has convinced EMP to become dedicated to exploring automation to its fullest extent.
While the investment in automated machinery can be daunting to some purchasers, applications like assembly, processing, and packaging benefit greatly from automation. Now, automated machinery and equipment manufacturers are even developing custom 3D software applications to achieve a competitive edge.