At the third annual mfgCON conference, Winston-Salem, NC, Brad Kemmerer presented “An Overview of Robotics in Manufacturing Today.” The presentation covered robotic applications, the movement toward flexible automation, operational benefits as well as how robotics can help United States manufacturing.
According to Brad Kemmerer, president and CEO, ABCO Automation, Inc., “Over thirty years ago, robots started making their way into manufacturing facilities. Today it is almost commonplace for manufacturing plants to have some type of robotics, and it is expected that by 2020 there will be three million industrial robots installed worldwide.” Kemmerer went on to explain, “There are numerous applications for robots, including material handling, assembly, packaging, machine tending, and painting — to name a few. And, there are a variety of benefits to employing robotics.”
Summary of key points provided by Kemmerer:
With a decline in average product life cycles and an increase in the product mix, manufacturers are moving toward flexible automation as a solution for adapting to fluid production demands. Flexible automation allows manufacturers to quickly and easily re-task a system or equipment based on a product’s design. Automation software, robotic arms, and vision systems are some of the components that can be included in a flexible automation system.
In addition to living in a flexible automation system, robots can provide:
Heavy lifting and actions in hot or cold room environments
Quick operations with repeatable quality
Highly reliable tasks without overtime
Data acquisition and reporting capabilities
Cost savings with increased throughput
Robots are tools for successful United States manufacturing. From the years 1998 – 2013, the United States has seen a 40 percent increase of goods and services with no increase in required labor hours. Automation including robotics has played a key role in these productivity gains. According to the International Federation of Robotics, from 2010 – 2015 the United States automotive industry installed 80,000 new robots yet added 230,000 more employees. A robot may reduce costs and improve quality, but it also can raise productivity and the ability for companies to compete. This results in higher paying jobs, the prevention of plant closings (loss of jobs), production expansion, and higher total employment.