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 RobotWorx for all their integration needs. RobotWorx is a certified integrator for FANUC, Motoman and KUKA robotic systems. Our staff works with manufacturers to find the best automated system for their facility.