Why Invest in Automation?
Though often considered expensive, there are many benefits automation can bring to your industrial finishing operation that far outweigh the costs. The five primary reasons that dominate conversations in factories today about automation are: reduce cost, improve quality, reduce waste, improve flexibility, and reduce labor costs.
- Cost. Automation and robotic technology is not as expensive as you think, and is decreasing every year. The initial price might still seem hefty, but automating a manufacturing process will increase output while reducing costs and continue to provide benefits for years to come (trust me, keep reading).
- Quality. To stay competitive, manufacturers can’t afford to have variation in product quality, especially when it comes to painting. Robots can ensure that the spray gun parameters and spraying motion is exactly the same each time, which increases quality. Even the most skilled painters can’t ensure that type of consistency and precision for each part. Better consistency means less wasted material (which brings us to the next point).
- Reduce Waste. Automation can reduce material consumption by up to 30%, thanks to the accuracy of robots. Add a plural component proportioner like Graco’s ProMix PD2K, which mixes material close to the gun, and reduce waste even more. Still not enough? Add electrostatic spray guns to the mix and boost your transfer efficiency (which eliminates even more material waste)!
- Flexibility. Robots can easily be reprogrammed to do new jobs. Why create a new fixture when a robot can make adjustments on the fly. This flexibility not only saves time during change-overs, it also saves money. Automation also provides flexibility to change materials and colors more frequently, allowing you to simplify your production planning.
- Labor. Robots don’t punch out when the whistle blows and they don’t care if they have to work 24/7. In fact, they can do the work of three employees (3 shifts at 8 hours per day). For this reason, labor and overhead are usually the largest drivers of savings. But robots benefit the workforce in other ways, like doing repetitive (not to mention boring) tasks, which reduces on-the-job injuries and job dissatisfaction. Robots can also remove our most valued asset (our people) from dangerous jobs, allowing them to focus on skilled labor jobs that require decision-making and judgment (something robots don’t do as well).
There’s no doubt that automation can save manufacturers money far exceeding the implementation costs. Companies that don’t think they can afford robot automation should look again.