What Are The Different Types of Pick and Place Robots?

Robotic-pick-and-placepick-and-place

Pick and place robots are available for a wide range of applications.  Whilst this gives you an overview of pick and place robots, the exact type of pick and place robot to suit your application will be very dependent on your specific requirements.

Robotic pick and place systems can be configured for multiple different types of products and plant layouts. As a robotic handling system, it can run without any operator input, to pick and place parts from one process into another, or from a process into packaging or any other application where items need to be moved from one place to another. A robotic pick and place system will reduce repetitive strain injury and worker fatigue, whilst increasing production throughput, productivity and efficiency.

Robotic Arm
Probably the most common type of pick and place robot is the robotic arm type; which typically come as 5 axis robots for standard pick and place application in plane, or 6 axis robots for more complex applications where the products needs twisting from the horizontal (similar to the image above).

Cartesian
The cartesian robot is also a very common type of pick and place robot, that used to be cheaper, but is now not so commonly installed apart from for injection moulding machines.

Delta
Delta robots are mounted above conveyors and are typically used for high speed pick and place applications.

Fast Pick
Fast pick robots are also another option for fast pick and place applications; with cycle times as fast as 150 cycles per minute.

Collaborative
In recent years a wide range of different types of collaborative robots have hit the market and these are becoming increasingly used in industrial applications, but they are mostly smaller, slower robots with less of the complex functionality available. This limits their usefulness for some applications.

 

Installing and commissioning robotic systems requires a wide range of skilled automation engineers; from robot programmers and PLC programmers through to mechanical engineers and CAD design engineers. At Granta we can simulate your production process with robots in it so you can see how robots would look and work in your process.  Looking at a simulation of your production process with robots enables you to make design changes prior to implementation.

A robotic pick and place systems would usually include the following:

  • A robot.
  • Touch screen control system – giving you set up options and a lot of surplus capacity for adding extra functionality such as, conveyors, link up with other machinery and remote production logging and monitoring.
  • Guarding and doors with interlocks and safety as required.
  • Bespoke robot gripper (the price may vary depending on how complex your items are to pick up and handle).
  • A basic conveyor.

With a bespoke designed pick and place system you will also be able to have the design modified suit your requirements. Modification can include; layout, guarding, how many products the robot picks up at once, stacking configuration and much more.

To enable you to get approximate pricing for pick and place robotic systems we have developed an online project builder which has 3 different pick and place options for you to choose from. Obviously pick and place robot systems are all bespoke so this only gives you a rough price guide.

 

Small Robotic Pick and Place System

Small robotic pick and place systems are usually used where the product is small, and the distance that the product needs to be moved is short. Some example applications where a small pick and place system would be appropriate include; packing chocolates into boxes, transferring small items from a conveyor to a tray or conveyor, placing components into a circuit board, and orientation of small parts.

Watch this short video to see a simulation of a small robotic pick and place system in action. This system was for turning dice for printing all the different faces with bespoke images for games.

 

 

Medium Robotic Pick and Place System

Medium pick and place robots are usually used where the product is larger and needs to be moved over a longer distance, or where there are multiple smaller pick and place applications that come together.  Some example applications of a medium pick and place system include; moving products between machines, movement of products within a food production process, and assembly of components.

Watch this short video to see a simulation of a medium robotic pick and place system in action.

 

 

Large Robotic Pick and Place System

Large robotic pick and place systems are usually used where the product is very large, or very heavy for example products weighing 100Kg or even up to as much as 1,000Kg +.  Some example applications for a large pick and place system include; moving cars on a production line, moving large sheets of glass and raw materials on production lines etc.

Watch this short video to see a simulation of a large robotic pick and place system handling glass.

 

 

Conclusion

Whilst this post gives you a broad overview of the different types of robotic pick and place systems, it is always important to have your own requirements professionally assessed to ensure you receive the optimum solution to meet your needs.  Along with many other benefits, a truly bespoke pick and place system will enable you to increase efficiency, reduce product defects, improve productivity, reduce wasted space, reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury, run your plant 24/7, and improve profits.

If you would like to discuss which pick and place system is likely to be best suited to your application then contact our automation consultants on 01223 499488, or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk .

 

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Robotic Machine Tending Explained

 
A complete robotic machine tending and assembly production line is an excellent way of completely automating your production process so that it can be run with minimal human input.

Robotic machine tending in its basic form is the movement of product from one machine to another, or to a holding or packing area.  Robotic machine tending even in this basic form is a vast improvement on human labour, as you reduce the risk of RSI, eliminate human error, and lower production costs.  However, robotic machine tending doesn’t just stop there…

With today’s advances in technology, robots can also be programmed to complete a process on the product as it move’s it from one area to another.  Be it quality checking the part, de-burring, assembly, or performing finishing touches, this can all be included in the machine tending process.

Robotic machine tending tends to commonly be associated with the production of metal parts, but it doesn’t need to stop there.  It can be used for handling virtually any type of production material, be it metal, polymers, ceramics, or composites.

As with every type of automation, the solution to suit your process will need to be bespoke.  The bespoke aspect of robotic machine tending is very important, as if you want your machines to run as efficiently and productively as possible, the solution has to be tailored specifically to your requirements.  With a bespoke robotic machine tending solution, wasted time and movement can be eliminated. After all, the less machining and processing time you need to enable you to produce the finished product, the more profit there is for you!

The first step towards installing a robotic machine tending process is to have your production process assessed by a competent automation supplier.  They will be able to look at your complete process and recommend solutions.

An example robotic machine tending process may run something like this;

  1. A pallet feeder feeds pallets into the system automatically.
  2. A robot takes parts out of an injection moulding machine, CNC machine or any other machine tending application.
  3. The robot then assembles the parts and stacks them onto pallets.
  4. A stretch-wrapping machine automatically stretch wraps the pallets.
  5. The finished pallets are automatically fed out of the system on a conveyor.

Systems such as these reduce labour requirements, reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury and reduce worker fatigue whilst increasing production throughput, productivity and efficiency.

A robotic machine tending system from Granta for this type of application would usually include:

  • A machine tending and assembly robot.
  • An Automatic pallet feeding system.
  • Pallet feeding conveyors.
  • Integration with the output of your CNC machine(s), injection moulding machine(s) or other machine tending application.
  • Assembly mounts and jigs.
  • A stretch-wrapping machine.
  • A touch screen control system.
  • Guarding and doors with interlocks and safety as required.
  • A bespoke robot gripper.

Click here to get an instant quote to see how cheaply you can take your business to the next level using bespoke robotic machine tending.

If you would like to find out more about robotic machine tending, contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk

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“Granta Automation provided us with a well-engineered solution within our expected timescales. We look forward to working further with them in 2018”

– Print Equipment Manufacturer

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Robotic Automation

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The growing popularity of robotic automation across a wide range of sectors looks set to continue over the next few years, as businesses look to take advantage of the many benefits it offers. Manufacturers in the UK are starting invest more in the technology in preparation for our departure from the EU, allowing them to maintain their competitive edge in the market.

Naturally, not everyone has been convinced of the advantages robotic automation can deliver. There is still some cautiousness about adapting an existing production line, with some reasonable objections posed by those yet to try the technology. To address both sides of the discussion, we have put together a few brief advantages and disadvantages of using robotic automation.

 

ADVANTAGES

Cost Effectiveness

There will be no lunchbreaks, holidays, sick leave or shift time allocated for robotic automation. It can be set to work on a repetitive cycle, and as long as it is maintained correctly, it will continue to do so until programmed otherwise.   This eliminates the risk of RSI occuring.

The increase in production at a lower cost produces obvious benefits for any manufacturer. The cost of investment can be recovered in a relatively short space of time and the gains from that point onwards are exponential to say the least.

 

Improved Quality Assurance

Few workers enjoy doing repetitive tasks and after a certain period of time concentration levels will naturally decline. This leads to costly errors for the business and sometimes serious injury to the member of staff.

Robotic automation eliminates these risks by accurately producing and checking items meet the required standard without fail. With more product going out the door manufactured to a higher standard, this creates a number of new business possibilities for companies to expand upon.

 

Increased Productivity

Using robotic automation to tackle repetitive tasks makes complete sense. Robots are designed to make repetitive movements. Humans, also by design, are not.

Giving staff members the opportunity to expand on their skills and work in other areas will create a better environment which the business as a whole will benefit from. With higher energy levels and more focus put into their work, the product can only improve, which will also lead to extremely satisfied clients.

 

Work In Hazardous Environments

Aside from potential injuries in the workplace, staff members in particular industries can be asked to work in unstable or dangerous environments. For example, if a high level of chemicals are present, robotic automation offers the ideal solution, as it will continue to work without harm.

Production areas that require extremely high or low temperatures typically have a high turnover of staff due to the nature of the work. Automated robots can minimise material waste and remove the need for humans to put themselves at unnecessary risk.

 

 

DISADVANTAGES

Potential Job Losses

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the introduction of robotic automation is the impact of jobs for workers. If a robot can perform at a faster, more consistent rate, then the fear is that humans may not be needed at all. While these worries are understandable, they are not really accurate.

The same was said during the early years of the industrial revolution, and as history has showed us, humans continued to play an essential role. Amazon are a great example of this. The employment rate has grown rapidly during a period where they have gone from using around 1,000 robots to over 45,000.

 

Initial Investment Costs

This is typically the biggest obstacle that will decide whether or not a company will invest in robotic automation, or wait until a later stage. A comprehensive business case must be built when considering the implementation of this technology. The returns can be substantial and quite often occur within a short space of time. However, the cash flow must be sustainable in the meantime and the stability of the company is by no means worth the risk if the returns are only marginal. Yet, in most instances there will be a repayment schedule available, which makes it a lot easier to afford and control finances.

Increased throughput and reduction in defects both need to be considered along with the capital expenditure when deciding whether or not there is a business case for investment.

 

Hiring Skilled Staff

Over the past decade manufacturers have found it harder to source skilled staff members to fill the specialised roles in their factories. The introduction of automation adds another layer to that conundrum as the robots require programming and a knowledge of how to operate them. In reality, this opens up further opportunities for existing employees to be trained and expand their own skill set. An automation company can assist with the initial installation and set-up process, and with the right expertise staff can learn and adapt to manage the robots in the long-term.

 

To find out if robotic automation offers the right solutions for your business, try our Project Builder which will guide you through the process of understanding the machinery, along with potential costs. Alternatively, you can always contact our sales team 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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Why does Automation Enable a Factory to Reduce Production Costs?

cut-costs

In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace automation has to be viewed as a long term strategy worth investing in. Some companies can baulk at the initial, or staggered, costs involved in moving from manual processes into automated procedures.

Yet to do so would miss the point and one of the main benefits that automation offers. The key to evolving into automated manufacturing is found in the short-to-long-term cost cutting it produces. Simply put this means the longer automation is used within production, the more powerful its ability to reduce costs becomes. Not only will it lower manufacturing overheads but increase output at the same time, a fact that many businesses are looking to take advantage of. But how is that possible and why does automation enable a factory to reduce production costs?

 

Improved Accuracy

While the long-term financial returns on automating particular processes will continue to increase, there are many quick ROI’s to be found too. Products can immediately be manufactured with the exact same specifications, with far lower tolerances, creating a far more consistent product.

Part cycle time also decreases and will naturally create a more efficient production line. Automated machines or robots have no need to take breaks like regular staff, therefore working at a faster rate and manufacturing more products within the same space of time. This extends further into the size of the machines which will create a smaller footprint than manual processes, allowing cubic space to be utilised more effectively.

 

Working With Humans

Automated technology continues to improve year-on-year and as such, so does its ability to work collaboratively with the human workforce. Sensor systems have become far more adept and built with safety in mind, and features such as collaborative robots that can detect too much resistance to their movement so they automatically shut down. The positive effect here is a safer workplace for employees, and a far lower risk of accidents occurring which can lead to costly lay-offs or even compensation claims.

 

Enhanced Data Capture

The data captured during manufacturing provides not only an invaluable insight into improving best practices but also to maximise efficiency and control over machine usage. Precise detail about wastage, energy consumption and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) can be analysed and used to constantly improve the production process.

Over time this will build a pattern of data that will produce predictive capabilities for factories to understand where and when machines may break down, minimise wastage and significantly lower energy costs. Rather than averaging these elements out across multiples lines produced within the same facility, the exact data for each product can be captured and analysed. This will allow companies to pinpoint definitive costs for every line produced in their factories.

 

Lower Labour Costs

As is the case in many specialised trades, manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit skilled workers. A generation or two ago the sector was seen as offering a stable career, but with school leavers given access to an increasing range of educational courses, many young people are opting for office-based roles.

In order to keep pace with growing consumer demand, the skill gap can be filled with the use of bespoke automation. One machine can perform the tasks of several workers and with none of the typical staff benefits required, the cost remains sustainably low and can therefore be projected over a longer period of time.

 

Efficient Production Lines

If a strong enough business case cannot be made to invest in automated machinery that can take on several duties, there are still alternatives available. A production line can operate more efficiently if existing machines are linked together through the installation of automated processes. This can be applied to older machines that can be retrofitted with new technology or connected via robots and conveyer systems.

The transfer time between machines will be shortened, creating faster throughput and overall improved manufacturing efficiency. Labour costs will also be reduced, and the overall unit cost per item will become cheaper, increasing profits and opening new investment opportunities.

 

Bespoke Automation

Specialised machines built to perform specific tasks have always existed in one form or another. While they offer many advantages, one of the biggest draw backs is how isolated they become from the overall manufacturing process. Automated machines that are designed to perform bespoke duties can not only do so at a faster rate, but can, if required, take on additional processes.

Alternatively, it is much easier to program an automated machine to work in conjunction with other areas of the production line. This gives you all the advantages of utilising a bespoke system without the concerns of slowing down manufacturing throughput.

 

Conclusion

Lowering costs is one of the main advantages of automation investment, a factor that a growing number of factories are taking into consideration across the globe. Automation provides the answers to a number of manufacturing issues, while delivering tangible results on the bottom line. Delivering the best possible experience for your customers starts in production and this exciting technology allows you to find that all important competitive edge.

 

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If you would like to find out how automation could help you reduce your production costs, contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to discuss this with you.

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How does Automation Affect Productivity?

Improved productivity is the golden ticket that every business hopes to win!

golden-ticketIf this can be achieved while also reducing costs then this perfect combination will only lead to improvements across the business as a whole. The main purpose of automation is to meet these two crucial factors which is why the use of technology is becoming so common place right across the supply chain. Productivity is crucial to gaining a sustainable advantage over competitors and increasing a foothold in the market. Meeting those targets is an analysis that needs constant attention, and the implementation of the smallest of changes can have a hugely beneficial effect. We’ve listed a small number of productivity benefits that can be gained from the introduction of automation into your manufacturing process.

 

Less Manual Delays

With less interruptions in production flow, the benefits here are easy to understand. Manual quality assurance checks are no longer required if an automated equivalent is installed, increasing the hourly throughput. This also applies to faults that occur during manual production processes. Human error results in the loss of significant response time when assessing and repairing the problem. In-built technology within an automated system such as vision inspection can perform on-going checks and balances, and if production is forced to halt, the downtime is far shorter.

 

Optimal Machine Efficiency  

Rather than spread elements of the production process across multiple machines or devices, automation allows one machine to perform an array of different tasks. Without the need to transfer product parts from one machine to another and with more accuracy gained, a larger number of units can be produced within the same period. Bespoke automation allows each machine to be designed and built to match the specific demands of the manufacturing process it is being installed into.

 

Manual Productivity

Not every part of the business can be automated and the growing fear over its impact on job stability is one of the main concerns in the workforce. However, increased use of automation does not have to result in a reduction of the human work force. Rather than placing staff on boring, repetitive tasks – which often leads to injuries and interruptions in production – re-positioning them onto jobs that utilise their skills will enhance their experience and improve productivity in other areas of the business. Improving productivity does not just mean directly within production, but also how this naturally filters through and impacts other connected areas of the business.

 

Manufacturing Data

Valuable information about the production process can be retained through the use of automation ensuring that knowledge typically lost during a manual process is instead stored for analysis. This is essential to further improving the use of the automated machines that are currently in use. Data logging systems allow this to be shared across the business, especially within the early design stage. The connection between these two business functions allows product designers to understand where changes can be made to find extra productivity in production once the product is ready to be made.

 

Management and Supervision

Similar to how workers can be moved away from repetitive tasks into areas that reflect and encourage skill development, there is a positive effect felt with the management staff. Rather than spending more time micro-managing, automation allows managers to be more creative with their resources. Of course, they will always be available to step in where required, but with more concentration focused in other areas of the business, they too can utilise their experience and skill more wisely. Management are typically in possession of years of experience, and being able to implement this within the company on a more widespread basis will only prove to be hugely beneficial.

 

Introducing New Products

The introduction of a new line of products opens the door to increased commercial possibilities but also creates new manufacturing problems to be solved. More often than not, new items are combined with existing products on the same line. Using traditional manufacturing methods this naturally slows down production due to increased changeover time, lowering the overall effectiveness of the machine. Automation, through the use of integrated robotics, can provide the ideal solution. Improved end-of-arm tooling can help maintain and improve the speed of production that existed before the implementation of the new products.

 

Conclusion

This is only a brief insight into how productivity can be improved through the addition of automation. Improved efficiency and significant cost savings will also be felt once the technology has integrated fully into the operational set-up. From production, to employees and ultimately the consumer, automation encourages a far more productive manufacturing process when compared to manual production lines.

Every manufacturing and production facility faces individual challenges that are unique to their business and market. We have worked with companies of all sizes to find sustainable solutions that can be implemented in real-time.

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

 

 

Why not use our productivity calculators to calculate the productivity of your production process and see where productivity could be improved? 2 Ways to Measure the Productivity, Effectiveness or Efficiency of your Machinery or Factory

 

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Thanks, you’ve just made my day a lot better!

Good work, really glad the modifications worked out.

 

We have just completed modifications on a complex machine of theirs to help them get it through EMC testing approval.

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What are the Benefits of Production Automation?

production-automationThe concept of production automation is nothing new of course, with rudimentary automated machinery being put to use as far back as the industrial revolution. Human interaction with machinery has become more intertwined as the decades have passed and we are now stepping into a new age of advanced technology. Manufacturing is more reliant than ever on automation to increase capacity and enhance efficiency, all in the aim of being more productive. Modern automation is generating a lot of discussion around the role it will play across the manufacturing sector, but what are its advantages and how can it be best put to use in production facilities?

Improving best practice

Production automation provides the opportunity to analyse manufacturing methods and make noticeable improvements to current processes. The use of vision inspection systems is a prime example, automating quality assurance and control in ways never before possible. Not only are defects and issues highlighted and handled quickly, but the accuracy of production increases, improving overall throughput and productivity. This is vital for companies working in industries such as food or manufacturing, where they must adhere to particularly stringent industry guidelines.

 

Bespoke and tailored solutions

There are a number of off-the-shelf production automation devices available on the market but given the differing size and scale requirements of manufacturers, a more tailored approach is often required. Bespoke automated machinery is built with the intention of addressing the individual requirements of the facility it is being installed within. Bespoke machines are designed and built to work within existing environments, and quickly enhance the production line. In some quarters, the word bespoke can be translated as meaning “more expensive”, but this is not always the case. The initial cost is an important factor when building a business case for automation but the short and long-term returns need to be taken into consideration.

 

Improve traceability

The tracking of products is a vital part of any manufacturer’s long-term strategy. Not only does it provide invaluable information about where improvements can be made during production itself but also for the quality of the finished product. Not only do data logging systems retain detailed data generated during manufacturing, the technology will identify issues the moment they occur. The key advantage here is that downtime is easier to manage as problems can be quickly analysed and resolved. This type of production automation is ideal for use in conjunction with vision inspection systems. When configured within the same production line, quality control rapidly improves due to the amount of big data that is now readily available.

 

Eliminate potential bottlenecks

The main objective of automation is to improve efficiency and productivity within the manufacturing process. In order to achieve that, machines need to be operating at full capacity and ensuring their element of the production chain is not creating a bottleneck that slows down the workflow. One method of automation that excels in this area is robotic automation. Robotic automation increases the speed at which parts are removed or loaded from the production line, helping to ease congestion. When throughput is running as close at it can to optimal levels then this also helps to lower costs and strengthen productivity.

 

Making the most of existing machinery

Companies looking at investing in production automation invariably view the cost as one of the driving factors behind their decision. The concept of automation brings to mind new, futuristic machinery that replaces old, out-of-date technology. In many cases this is true but there are cost effective ways in which you can modernise without reinventing the wheel. Old machinery can be adapted to accommodate bespoke automation, bringing many of the benefits that come with newer versions. While you may not achieve the sort of optimisation that comes with the installation of brand new automated machinery, efficiency, accuracy and speed will all certainly advance.

 

Optimising factory space

With growing demands being placed upon distribution centres due to the rise of e-shopping, this also places stress onto the manufacturing element of the supply chain. Companies performing well could be looking to increase capacity which may require new premises, but this is not always a financially viable option. Automation can be designed to make the most of the space available, sometimes even offering vertical solutions, rather than spreading outward across floor level. Automated machinery can be more compact and yet still produce more efficient returns, allowing you to reclaim valuable floor space.

 

 

The 2017 Annual Manufacturing Report by Hennik Research revealed that 65% of those surveyed had invested in some form of automation in the past 12 months. Even amidst the uncertainty of Brexit, investment in automated systems is allowing manufacturers to upgrade their facilities and find those all-important competitive gains. Automation is as adaptable as you need it to be, finding new and inventive ways to assist companies in maximising their production output.

 

To discuss how production automation could benefit your production process, contact us on 01223 499488 or email us at helpline@granta-automation.co.uk .

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Why is the UK Government so Interested in Automation?

Why-is-the-government-so-interested-in-automation

As Brexit talks slowly edge towards deeper and more complex negotiations, the process has highlighted a range of issues across a number of industries that may otherwise have remained untouched. Production investment in the UK has been an ongoing cause for concern as lack of improvement in post war productivity becomes more highlighted than ever. Industry planning outside of the EU will require considerable organisation and investment and automation will remain central in the new manufacturing landscape.

 

The current status in the UK

Five years ago the UK, which at the time was the 7th largest economy in the world, held a worldwide ranking of 19th in terms of robot density within the manufacturing sector. According to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, in 2015 the UK were behind countries such as the US, Germany, Japan and South Korea. For every 10,000 employees working in general industry, in the UK there were only 33 robots in use. In addition to this, there were only 10 robots per million hours worked. When you compare this to 133 for Germany, 167 for Japan and 131 in the US, we can see there is still some work to do.

Automation is a key global industry that will prove pivotal to the sustained growth of future economies, and these figures suggest the UK has some ground to recover. The restructuring of the manufacturing sector that occurred throughout the 70s and 80s meant that many began to see the industry as outdated and secondary to the importance of the newly deregulated financial institutions and markets. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, it is worth noting that productivity in the manufacturing sector grew three times faster than the entire UK economy. The sector is currently responsible for 45% of all UK exports which see us positioned as the 9th largest industrial nation in the world. With technology becoming more accessible and cost effective, the fourth industrial revolution is moving at a rapid pace, and the Government is keen to see the UK working on the cusp of these developments.

 

The government’s plans

At the start of this year, the government unveiled its Industrial Strategy. This outlined a plan to invest £2 billion per year by 2020 for new research and development in the tech sector. Only last week Prime Minister Theresa May announced additional funding of £17.3 million for research and development into AI in universities. These ambitious plans aim to place the UK at the centre of the next tech-driven industrial age, in an attempt to recover the shortcomings that have occurred over the past few decades.

Smart manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) will build upon the work that automation has already forged over the past decade and a half. By focusing on the possibilities that automation allows, it presents the opportunity to push the boundaries of technological innovation so vital to growing the UK economy in a post-Brexit world. Robotics and integrated automation is set to revolutionise the entire supply chain. For example, when you consider that approximately 80% of warehouses still rely on manual processes, you can see the environment is ripe for development.

 

What the future holds in store

With augmented and virtual reality technology becoming far more accessible, the next generation of automated tools will provide a more interconnected landscape. This will find use in areas such as plant maintenance, predictive maintenance, virtual reality tools and processes and, of course, the continued implantation of robotics using this technology along with advanced AI.

Now is the ideal time for government and businesses to build a coherent strategy that will position the UK as a leader in the field of technological innovation. Both are aware that manufacturing will remain at the forefront of these changes and blueprints for regulatory reforms, as well as skills training, will need to be identified and clearly structured.

The good news is that many companies are planning to solidly invest in automation over the next two years. The annual EEF/Santander Annual Investment Monitor survey surveyed 328 businesses in August and over 51% stated they intended to increase their spend in this area. What the results also reveal is that this is mostly to satisfy current demand and capacity, rather than to improve productivity and increase production. Understandably, many companies are in a state of flux due to the uncertainty produced by our planned exit from the EU. This makes the need for an industrial strategy to be delivered by the government more urgent than ever.

 

 

As a market leader in automation, Granta will be a key player in the changing face of manufacturing over the next few years and beyond. For manufacturers uncertain of what Brexit holds in store, the opportunities that automation offers right now can add significant benefits to your business, providing a crucial competitive edge.

The first step is to look at our innovative project builder to gain an idea of the type of automation that suits your organisation. Our sales team are also able to answer any further questions you might have and they can be reached on 01223 499488 or by email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

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Control System Case Study – Granta Automation

 

Brief

A British chocolatier and cocoa grower, were looking for a means of transferring chocolate and fillings to their new production line. They commissioned an engineering company to design and build 4 stainless steel, jacketed transfer vessels on castors to enable them to be wheeled around the plant. Each tank required a mixer, electric jacket heating and a transfer pump and valve arrangement to circulate and discharge the contents. It also needed to interface with the machine it was supplying to keep the feed tank topped up to the correct level. Having worked with Granta before on previous projects they turned to them again for the required expertise to design, build and integrate a control system for this bespoke requirement. The control brief was:

  • Provide control of the pump and valve to circulate the product to maintain its condition and uniform temperature whilst in the tank. This pump was to be two speed to allow a faster flow rate for cleaning the tank out.
  • Switch from circulation to discharge when the machine called for more product.
  • Provide control for the lid mounted paddle mixer including lid safety interlocks.
  • Provide level monitoring to warn of low level condition.
  • Provide electrical supply for heating control by others.

 

Result

Granta worked with the customer, the project management company and the engineering company to establish the detailed requirements of the design. Granta then used their extensive experience to suggest and incorporate enhancements to the original design proposal to optimise the ultimate performance of the transfer tanks.

  • Two major improvements Granta suggested and incorporated were;
    • Replacing the two speed pump motor with a standard single speed motor and fitting an inverter to allow far greater control of the pump operation.
    • Incorporating the heating control into the main control system to centralise the settings and allow extra monitoring of temperature as the products require very precise temperature control.
  • The prototype tank was fitted with the new control system and put into service to evaluate it. This resulted in some minor changes following which the other 3 tanks were built and commissioned incorporating these modifications.
  • The tanks have functioned well in their duties and should provide ongoing service for many years.
  • As the tanks were not being sold to another user, there was not a requirement to CE mark them but Granta designed and built the control system to the relevant standards and supplied a CE certificate of incorporation for it.

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