Key Trends In The Manufacturing Industry – What You Need To Focus On For Your Manufacturing Plant in 2018-2019

The success of the manufacturing sector relies on constant evolution of the processes involved, utilising new equipment, technology and techniques to find optimal efficiency gains. The exponential growth of technology, in particular, remains as true today as it did 50 years ago and the production landscape is changing shape faster than ever before.

Keeping pace with developments allows your business to remain a constant and relevant force in the market place. With that in mind, we’ve listed what we believe to be the key trends in the manufacturing industry and what you need to focus on for your manufacturing plant in 2018/19.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The need to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve safety and incentivise product innovation are just some of the challenges facing manufacturers who are considering implementing the Internet of Things into their operations.

IoT enabled equipment will allow manufacturers to maximise the lifespan of their technology without disturbing the output. With lower levels of maintenance planning, equipment downtime and maintenance costs, it provides a number of essential advantages in an increasingly competitive market.

Enhanced connectivity will dramatically change how manufacturers capture and use key data. In turn this will provide stronger insights into the supply chain and inventory processes. Optimising production in real-time will enable businesses to become more efficient and limit wastage output.

 

Industry 4.0

Otherwise known as smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0 has been labelled as the 4th industrial revolution. The use of advanced manufacturing technology right across the production chain provides vast improvements on processes, enhancing efficiency and making the factory floor safer for employees. The ability to monitor and analyse assets more closely ensures it is possible to constantly tweak and evolve the level of output.

The implementation of Industry 4.0 provides a number of advantages for manufacturers, including increased productivity, faster reaction times to customers, the creation of new services and product lines, as well as improved delivery to market. With the right framework in place and the critical business areas addressed, smart manufacturing opens up extensive and exciting new possibilities across almost every sector.

 

Cobot Manufacturing

Collaborative robots are already in place in a number of factories in a wide number of industries. However, technology never stands still and the evolution of these robots means lightweight and agile versions are set to become more common place in the manufacturing sector.

Cobots are being designed to be more sensitive to respond to human interaction and reduce the level of risk involved in working more closely together. For example, built in sensors can detect the presence of a human and reduce the operating speed the closer the human gets to the machine. Cobot’s can also control the speed and force being applied and instantly stop when an obstacle is encountered, significantly lowering the impact density.

 

Augmented reality

While virtual reality has made great strides in the past decade, experts have always felt that augmented reality offered even greater opportunities. The blending together of the real world with advanced computer generated visual aids may still be in its early stages but interest from the manufacturing sector is rapidly gaining pace.

For example, the use of wearable technologies connects workers to a goldmine of information and data to help optimise job performance while increasing safety. AR could be implemented on assembly lines, skilled training, maintenance, support services, quality assurance and automation.

At one time this sort of technology may have seemed light years away from being used in real time environments. This is no longer the case with AR actually in use in a number of facilities right now. As the technology improves exponentially, so will the myriad of ways it will improve the manufacturing sector.

 

Additive manufacturing

The use of 3D printing technology is becoming more common place, helping to introduce efficient and cost effective practices. Additive manufacturing allows for the prototyping, tooling – and on occasion – the production of applications used within the manufacturing process.

3D printing enables manufacturers to reduce the large inventories of spare parts required to respond quickly to customer orders. By being able to produce the part without large stock levels adding to their storage space costs, response times are maintained, while being more cost effective and maintaining the integrity of the equipment supplied.

Using additive manufacturing processes to create prototypes and tooling moulds increases operational efficiency while also lowering costs. Rather than running up huge costs and taking months to produce, 3D printing enables this to be produced within a matter of days.

 

To find out how we can help you keep pace with the latest automation and robotic technology for your facility, contact our automation consultants who are always on hand to quickly respond to your questions, and provide detailed answers based on your current requirements. They can be contacted on 01223 499488, or via email at helpline@granta-automation.co.uk .

 

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Granta Update April 2018 – 5 Key Ways To Improve Machine Throughput!

journey-1Are You Coming On Our Journey?

You only need to bring:

  • Yourself and your co-workers
  • All your good ideas
  • A desire to achieve

Find out where they journey starts >>


vision-inspection-marchIs Improving Quality Control One of Your Key Targets?

Simply put, if your target market can depend on your ability to consistently produce products that meet their levels of expectation, it is far more likely your business will continue to grow.

But, how does this relate to quality control? We’ve found that improved quality control remains at the heart of retaining loyal customers.

Read more >>


Throughput-capacityHow Can I Improve The Throughput Capacity Of My Machinery?

This is a question that all manufacturers ask themselves at some point… Maintaining an efficient throughput is essential to the success of any manufacturing facility.

Clearing bottlenecks, training staff and implementing automation are just a few of the handy tips this post contains.

Read more >>


Case-study-ImagesControl System Upgrade for Large Injection Molding Company…

Granta were approached by a large injection molding company in the Midlands who manufacture a range of dosing valves for a well-known UK cleaning chemical manufacturer.

They had three testing units which they no longer had circuit diagrams for and the personnel who built the machines were no longer available.  This was making fault finding and troubleshooting very difficult.

Find out what we did >>


customer-happyWe Love Keeping Our Customers Happy…

Having completed a bespoke automation project installation for our customer he told us he wanted to say thank you because:

  • “You had everything with you that you needed to do the job.
  • You kept the work area clean and tidy.
  • You know what you are doing!”
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Manufacturing Industry Statistics for 2017 and Anticipated Statistics for 2018

Manufacturing-statistics

With the end of the financial year upon us, we take a look back at 2017 in the manufacturing sector to review how it has impacted companies in the UK. The last 12 months have largely been a success for many in the industry which has led to a number of bullish predictions for 2018 and beyond. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 10% of the British economy and usually provides a strong indication of what the coming months hold in store in financial terms for the country as a whole.

Take a look at the manufacturing industry statistics for 2017 and some of the anticipated statistics for 2018 below.

 

Statistics for 2017

The strength of the economy came as a surprise to many at the tailed end of 2017, which subsequently led to a more optimistic outlook for 2018.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research revealed the UK GDP grew by 0.6% in the final three months of last year, up against a predicted forecast of 0.5%. Taking this new estimate into account the UK economy as a whole expanded in 2017 by a total of 1.8%.

The good news is that the manufacturing sector played a significant role in this unexpected rise. In November 2017 alone, the industry grew by 0.4%. More pleasingly, the average between October to December was the highest seen for almost a decade, while also being 3.9% higher than in the same period in 2016. Seven consecutive months of growth marked the first time in 20 years the sector had experienced such a boom.

A growth in exports is the driving factor behind this current surge, assisted by a weaker pound and growing demand from economies in the Eurozone. According to a survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 42% of those questioned stated output had increased in the final quarter of 2017, with only 11% stating it was down. 28% said their total order books were busier than normal, while 11% revealed orders had slowed in the same period.

 

What 2018 holds in store

The growth experienced in 2017 has created an optimistic mood for the next 12 months. In particular, manufacturers that have already committed to or are planning to, embrace the advantages that technology can add to their business, look set to benefit the most. This includes tools such robotics, automation, cognitive computing/artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, and internet of things (IoT).

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC) Annual Manufacturing Report highlighted the important role Industry 4.0 (automation and data exchange) will play in the coming years. 80% of those included in the report believe digital technology has been beneficial to their business, while a further 79% agreed it will allow them to widen their customer base through service-based offering.

A survey of 378 firms in January by manufacturers organisation, EEF, showed that manufacturers are expecting the current cycle of growth to continue. Many are anticipating larger productivity gains for 2018, with 66% of the company’s surveyed anticipating improvements in efficiency.

The EEF also estimate the sector will continue to expand by approximately 2% in 2018, which is faster than the rate at which they expect the UK economy to grow as a whole. This is tempered slightly by output dropping to its lowest level in eight months in February this year, although the demand for new orders indicates this will not be a continuing trend for the next 12 months.

While the uncertainty that continues to linger around Brexit is weakening the strength of the pound, the positive effect it is having on manufacturing looks set to continue in the short to medium term at least. Coupled with the steady improvement of the global economy, this also means demand from overseas should remain stable.

This isn’t to say that Brexit is not a huge concern for industrialists. A lack of a clear national economic purpose from the government means that while many companies are keen to invest in new technology, some remain hesitant in the current climate. With the EU’s Michel Barnier highlighting the need to have the Brexit agreements in place by October of this year, it highlights how important the remainder of this year is to the manufacturing sector.

 

Conclusion

As we can see, after steady growth across most of 2017, there is currently a lot of optimism in the industry. At the same time, businesses remain cautious as they are aware how quickly the market could change due to the unknown outcome of the Brexit negotiations. With the global economy expanding by 3.3% in 2017, and the World Bank predicting an expansion of 3.1% in 2018, the export market looks set to continue bearing fruit for British manufacturers.

 

To find out more detail on how we can help your business in 2018, email our helpline helpline@granta-automation.co.uk, or call us on 01223 499488.

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Control System Upgrade Case Study – Granta Automation

 

Brief

Granta were approached by a large injection molding company in the Midlands who manufacture a range of dosing valves for a well-known UK cleaning chemical manufacturer.  This particular range of dosing valves include a venturi and the chemical manufacturer uses them to mix the cleaning chemicals into water to ensure correct dilution rates.

The parts for these dosing valves are molded and assembled and the completed assemblies then require 100% testing. The injection molding company have three test units for this purpose which are quite elderly, and whilst they generally operate satisfactorily, there are no electrical, pneumatic or hydraulic (water) circuit diagrams available and the personnel who built these units are no longer available.  This made fault finding and troubleshooting very difficult. The units also did not meet current safety requirements and therefore needed upgrading.

 

Result

Granta were initially commissioned to examine all three units and produce a report on their condition with recommendations for update and improvement. The report found that whilst overall design and functionality was good and the data acquisition system which had been recently upgraded also worked well, the electrical control system was in poor condition, was very untidy and did not meet current safety standards. Granta recommended utilising all the existing pumps, valves, sensors and data acquisition system but stripping out and rebuilding the controls system to modern standards. An option was also proposed to incorporate an uninterruptible power supply for the computers running the system.

After considerations of the report, Granta were invited to quote for the upgrade work and were subsequently awarded the job to complete this upgrade. The test rigs were transported to Granta’s Whittlesford workshop for the rebuild and testing, one at a time, to leave two rigs in service at any one point.

 

Case-study-Images

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How True This Quote of Henry Ford’s Is!

Henry-Ford-Quote

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What are The Advantages of Automatic Product Sorting?

 

Increasing the reliability and quality of your products and services is a must for any manufacturer. Those that work to short delivery times and high levels of distribution need to rely on machinery that will meet the demands of their customers while optimising efficiency to remain competitive.

Automated sorting systems play an integral part in ensuring goods and products across a range of industries are organised and distributed correctly. Manufacturers now understand the speed, accuracy and capacity benefits automated sorting machinery brings to the production line.

If you are thinking about introducing automated sorting systems to your facility and aren’t sure what the advantages of automatically sorting and counting products are, read on to find out more.

 

Increased efficiency

This begins with the staff working on the factory floor. Automated sorting machines are able to consistently perform the same repetitive motion to the same standard, lowering the prospect of injuries and, even worse, accidents. Injuries can lead to time off for the affected party and rising costs for the manufacturer.

The advantage for workers is the opportunity to learn other skills in the company away from uninspiring jobs that require them to repeat the same motion time and again. Robotic sorting systems do not require breaks or time off and can process a higher quota of products in a shorter space of time.

 

Lower costs

Combined with a faster rate of throughput, lower costs provides huge benefits for manufacturers. Although the upfront cost for any piece of automation should always be assessed by the business before making the commitment, it should also be tempered with the ROI. This will not be a slow process as gains in efficiency are almost immediate, meaning savings will impact the business straightaway.

Not only are there savings to be made with lower wage costs, but improved energy use management through better use of the machinery also has a positive effect. We have helped countless businesses who are contemplating investing in automation for the first time, and our Bespoke Machinery Buying Guide gives a good overview of what needs to be considered when investing in automation.

 

Improved accuracy

In many manufacturing sectors such as automotive, and pharmaceutical and medical, accuracy is of paramount importance. Sorting machines can operate quickly and more cost efficiently, while ensuring the quality of the product is never compromised.

Human error often plays a large part in many of the incidents that occur within a production facility and the introduction of counting and sorting systems removes much of those concerns. The positive knock on effect is that with a product being manufactured to a consistently higher standard, it opens the door to the acquisition of new customers.

 

With increased safety for employees, a faster rate of production, lower costs and better quality products, there are many reasons to invest in robotic sorting machines. Their ability to sort and count goods of any shape and size mean they can easily fit into any production process and add significant benefits.

According to the Association for Advancing Automation, the first half of 2017 saw a 26% rise in investment compared to the same period the previous year. 2018 looks set to continue that trend as companies across every sector begin to realise the advantages automation can add to their business.

We are always on hand to discuss your requirements in more detail. We’d love to answer any further questions you may have, so feel free to call us on 01223 499488 or email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

Find out more…

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Why Use Vision Systems for Quality Control – What Are The Benefits?

3D-inspectionSustaining and improving quality control remains at the heart of any manufacturer who wishes to build a long lasting relationship with their customer base. Quite simply, if your target market can depend on your ability to consistently produce products that meet their levels of expectation it is far more likely your business will continue to grow.

The methods employed by companies vary across the board but ultimately finding the most accurate and cost effective method of providing quality assurance is the goal.  For a long time the manual inspection of the manufacturing process was seen as the most reliable way of maintaining standards. But even the most keen-eyed worker is prone to make mistakes and the repetitive nature of the work will eventually begin to show.

Even with the introduction of machine vision inspection systems there was some hesitation around implementing them into existing processes. Despite the opportunity to reduce wastage and increase data surrounding the production line, they were seen as limited, too expensive and difficult to integrate into existing systems.

Of course, the technology has moved on significantly over the past couple of decades with 2D, 3D and barcode reading systems becoming increasingly common place. There is still some hesitation from some companies unsure as to their value, but with the advances in technology, vision inspection can be carried out extremely fast on high speed production lines; more accurately than a human can do it and at a speed faster than the human eye can see.

2D-visionVision inspection is a generic term that covers a whole spectrum of automatic inspection systems, from digital standard 2D cameras to 3D laser line scanners and more. More recently 3D vision is being used in conjunction with a 6 axis robot for bin picking and other tasks that used to require human input. As AI becomes an increasing reality there is very little that can’t be achieved with automated vision inspection systems.

Using vision for quality control can cover a whole realm of tasks e.g. reading and checking the labels on products, measuring 3D objects to ensure they are manufactured correctly and within tolerance, sensing where products are on a conveyor so they can be picked up with a robot and orientated and placed accurately into a further process or packaging, ensuring products are not scratched marked, checking painting has been carried out correctly and much more.

A vision inspection system that has been properly installed and calibrated will be extremely accurate, fast and reliable. Automated quality control with vision inspection also has many additional benefits compared with people doing manual inspection, it can run 24 hours 7 days a week and it does not need tea breaks, it does not suffer fatigue like people do and will be a lot more accurate and fast. Typically the time saving from running 24/7 without breaks or shift handovers pays for the cost of automated vision inspection very quickly.

According to a 2016 report by Credence Research Inc, the machine vision inspection market is likely to be worth almost $15bn by 2022. The technology is improving year-on-year and making the investment sooner rather than later will give your business that crucial competitive edge. Find out how much a vision inspection system could potentially cost or get in contact with our automation consultants on 01223 499488, or email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

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The Granta Story – Your Story, Our Story, a Story of Passion to Continuously Achieve

Granta-Story

We are passionate about that moment when together we achieve with innovative automation beyond your expectations, and you begin your journey of continuous achievement.

Our many enjoyable hours of conceptualising, discussing, testing, prototyping, designing, drawing, manufacturing, programming and commissioning are over.   The moment has come when together we’re standing in front of the machine and you reach for the start button…

We watch the machine come to life; be it motors winding into action, pneumatics hissing, conveyors gently picking up speed, actuators gliding effortlessly, or robots uncurling, the machine becomes a hive of automated activity. Our hands run over the meticulously engineered framework of the machine as together we watch it produce something new and outstanding.

Captivated, we stand watching and smiles spread across our faces…. Coming out of the machine, quicker than ever before, is a freshly packed product, or something newly assembled, or even something that has changed colour… something new, changed and superior. From life saving devices to cleaning chemicals, from beautifully made furniture to solidly made construction products, or even tasty, freshly baked food… a revolution has occurred.   Our attention to detail has paid off, the machine is running like clockwork.  It’s your key to success!

Created with precision, care and skill, each machine is unique with its own distinct significance. Together we have created a machine that manufactures better, quicker, cheaper and more safely than ever before; producing products that make this world a better and happier place to live.

Together we are strengthening the heart of the UK’s economy and making a positive contribution to many people’s lives.

Before going to bed that evening you grab your smartphone and quickly log into your new automated machinery to find all is running well. Your head rests back on the pillow relaxed and happy; you have achieved, not just for today but for years to come.

Join us on the journey, come and share our passion to continuously achieve with automation. Are you ready?

Start this journey – contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk 

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We Love It When We Make Our Customers Happy :)

customer-happyHaving completed a bespoke automation project install our customer wanted to say thank you because:

  • You had everything with you that you needed to do the job
  • You kept the work area clean and tidy
  • You know what you are doing

 

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How Can I Improve The Throughput Capacity Of My Machinery?

Improve-throughput-capacityMaintaining an efficient throughput is essential to the success of any manufacturing facility. In order to remain competitive production must be sustained at a certain level to keep a steady flow of goods heading out to customers. Any break or delay within the factory can have a negative effect on the rest of the supply chain, creating delays and complications with clients who might begin to shop around for a better service.

Quickly identifying issues within the production cycle that may be preventing the system from maximising throughput will create an efficient manufacturing process and reduce the possibility of customer complaints. As a brief overview, we are going to cover a number of ways in which you can improve the throughput capacity of your machinery.

 

Clear the bottleneck

In many cases the easiest way to improve throughput capacity is by analysing, identifying and clearing bottlenecks in the process. Bottlenecks occur when a particular part of the system slows down or underperforms, and effects the speed of the process as a whole. Not all bottlenecks are easy to identify so it may take some time to carefully go through each stage to find where the problem exists. Visit our blog post ‘How do I Identify a Bottleneck in My Production Process?’ for help with identifying bottlenecks.

Solutions may include adding additional elements to enable more parts to be manufactured. The opposite could also be true; a section or station may need to be removed and be replaced with something that is able to deal with demands placed upon it. Not everything will come down to the actual machinery itself as you will need to strike the right balance between the time, space and cost involved in implementing the solution.

 

Keep staff trained and motivated

A good factory or manufacturing facility is only ever as good as its staff. That is also true of highly automated operations as the human factor still plays a vital role in its success.

The ongoing training of staff is not only an investment in their skills but a way to improve the quality of work within the organisation. The direct link between this and efficiency on the production line is unmistakable as undertrained employees will not have a full understanding of where improvements can be gained. When staff are engaged with their work and the process as a whole they see how their role impacts the bigger picture. If they are given guidance on how to use the machines and maximise their section of the process, time can be saved and throughput increased.

 

Implement automated machinery

If a strong business case can be made to purchase and install automated machinery then the improvements made to the throughput will be almost instant. Whether you operate a manual facility or use a semi-automated process, the introduction of automation will always have a positive impact on quality, speed and efficiency.

E-retailers in particular are transforming the make-up of their warehouses to accommodate the fast paced demands required of them. With short deadlines required from the point of order through to the delivery of the product, automated machinery is able to retain quality of service at a much faster rate.

Those in the manufacturing sector are also realising the benefits of automation; improved quality, increased accuracy, instant fault reporting, reduced downtime, and improved traceability are just a few of the many benefits.  Some of the machines that provide great benefit to the manufacturing sector include robotic machine tending and assembly systems and production monitoring and data logging systems. An assembly system significantly improves loading and unloading times, while a monitoring system maximises efficiency by producing detailed reporting on the system during operation allowing you to track downtime and eliminate any unnecessary downtime.

 

Improved quality control

Upon analysis you may come to the realisation that the speed of the production line is not where the problem lies. No matter how quickly your assembly process may be, if the quality of the product is not up to standard you will be facing a higher rejection rate.

The impact created from so much time and money being wasted on poorly made products will soon begin to show on the balance sheet. This will no doubt also have a knock-on effect to the deliveries and keeping up with demand for the product.

These consequences are felt some time after the initial problem begins and there are ways to be more efficient by improving quality control and increasing throughput. Vision inspection systems provide accurate quality assurance to ensure productivity remains high, with less money, time and resources wasted on poorly manufactured products.

 

Improved use of machinery

Reviewing the process within any facility should be common practice implemented even when the system appears to be running smoothly. Getting the most of your process, whether led by machines or by other means of operation, will create an ambitious culture of maximising the tools at your deposal.

If automated machinery is already running within the facility throughput can still be improved by thinking of ways in which the machines can work together. Rather than using individual machines to complete specific tasks, and creating wasted product movement, there are ways in which custom automation can unify the processes. Even in operations that rely on older machinery, these can still be adapted to work with new technology. The time lost by waiting for the transfer from one machine to another can be reduced, improving efficiency and ultimately generating a higher throughput.

 

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to improve your manufacturing throughput. Whether you are experiencing issues that are slowing down production, or looking at ways to become more efficient, the suggestions above will give you a strong starting point to begin your analysis.

If you are looking for ways to increase throughput capacity within your business, you can contact one of our automation consultants who will be happy to talk through the options available to you. Simply email our helpline helpline@granta-automation.co.uk, or call us on 01223 499488.

 

Find Out More…

 

Posted in Bespoke Automation, Bespoke Machinery, Bespoke Machinery Automation, Custom Automation, Custom Built Machinery, Custom Control Systems, Custom Machinery Automation, Datalogging, Machinery Integration, Old Machinery Automation, Production Line Control Systems, Production Monitoring, Robotic Automation, Vision Inspection | Tagged , | Comments Off on How Can I Improve The Throughput Capacity Of My Machinery?