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Innovative Manufacturers Should Embed Automated Systems in Production Processes

Precision tools improve process control and result in higher product quality.

Innovative manufacturers should strategically embed three classes of automated systems into their production processes: industrial robots, autonomous robots, and co-bots. These precision tools will allow higher control of processes and thus lead to higher product quality. Greene Tweed’s Industry 4.0 initiative, The Right FITT™, or Factory Innovation and Technology Transformation, uses all three types to increase product repeatability and production capability.

Industrial robots improve capabilities

Industrial robots are among the most well-known Industry 4.0 technology, and can provide a substantial improvement in capabilities. Engineered for precise repetition of specific manufacturing tasks, industrial robots execute at high speed and high volumes. For example, Greene Tweed’s Industry 4.0 initiative, The Right FITT™, or Factory Innovation and Technology Transformation, uses robots because they can endure harsh environments and complete physically difficult tasks while remaining nimble. This provides engineers more options when designing manufacturing processes that might otherwise pose a safety hazard to employees.

Autonomous robots create efficiencies and offer safety benefits

Autonomous robots create efficiencies in a number of areas. Equipped with sensors and programmed to respond to surroundings, these units are a popular option for navigating the less predictable parts of a manufacturing process. For example, The Right FITT™ includes autonomous robots that shuttle parts and products from warehouse to employee and back, dodging people and other obstacles, to save employee time for more value-added tasks. These devices also limit slip, trip, and fall injuries, as well as large and small muscle strains brought on by transporting large, unyielding loads. 

Co-bots reduce the need for labor to perform low-value repetitive tasks

Co-bots are machines that assist employees in completing their work, vastly reducing the need for low-value, repetitive tasks. They boost efficiency, offer health and safety benefits, and increase value-added employee uptime. The exciting technology is an integral element of The Right FITT™.

As the most interactive new hardware, the integration of co-bots depends on a company’s workforce culturally embracing novel technology. Co-bots also provide the best opportunity for ground-up innovation. For example, employees working with a co-bot who develop a strategy for improving efficiency or quality can program the co-bots across the company to apply those improvements.

Automated technologies showcase benefits of digital technologies

Automated technologies are one of the best ways to really observe the collaborative fruits of digital technologies. Through data-enabled innovation and automation, manufacturers can increase throughput without increasing overhead, all while ensuring quality.

One example is automated visual inspection. Camera and image analysis technology has now surpassed the human eye in many respects, and automated visual inspection systems can reduce quality inconsistencies. At a company such as Greene Tweed, a manufacturer of high-performance polymer seals, gaskets, and components in highly regulated industries, these new technologies represent an excellent way to innovate.

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