When Henry Ford first introduced the assembly line concept in the early 1900s, it was a serious game-changer — revolutionizing not just the automobile industry, but the entire manufacturing industry virtually overnight.
After more than a century since Ford’s innovation, the manufacturing landscape is now facing a similar manufacturing revolution: automated assembly.
Automating certain manufacturing processes, particularly advanced assembly processes, can carry a number of benefits:
Quicker Turnaround Time
Smart, efficient use of automation reduces turnaround time for projects. With automation, it is easy to combine a number of assembly capabilities or production steps into a single step. ESI’s custom assembly machine with vision inspection, for example, assembles and compares dozens of part dimensions simultaneously in just seconds.
See how it works in the video below, or download the case study for the full story.
Automation also enhances production quality. While some tasks, such as aligned press fits, are often difficult to perform manually, they can be made much more efficiently and accurately through automation. Automated assembly also allows for a high degree of conformity across pieces, another manufacturing aspect that is typically difficult to accomplish manually.
Further, quality assurance steps can be implemented into an automation system in the same way that multiple production processes can be incorporated. ESI, for example, incorporates cutting edge vision-based inspection technology into all of our automated processes. This allows us to deliver assemblies with virtually 0% defect rates.
Reduced Labor Costs
One of the most important benefits of automated assembly is the opportunity for both direct and indirect labor cost savings. Directly, the reduction in cost of labor is clear. Every step that can be automated is a step that an employee no longer has to perform; this frees time for other tasks that can’t be automated.
However, indirect labor savings achieved through automated assembly are often easily overlooked. Automation can reduce:
- — Material handling and component orientation time
- — In-process inventory, when replacing batch operations
- — Finished product inventory
- — Scrap
- — Defective pieces
- — Personnel training
All of these reductions help to keep the cost of assembly low, but are often not considered in cost savings calculations.