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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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