Automated assembly lines use a variety of machines to control the processing and movement of materials. By fully automating an assembly line, manufacturers can produce a higher volume of products quicker with less human error, enhanced precision, and increased efficiency. Here, we’ll dive into the various components and benefits of a fully automated assembly line, as well as how it differs from semi-automated assembly lines.
Components of a Fully Automated Assembly Line
Fully automated assembly lines run with minimal human intervention, using automated feeding equipment and conveyor systems to feed or load parts into the machine. Once loaded, the part moves through various stations where different types of stations carry out the necessary manufacturing steps based on preprogrammed instructions. Common components of a fully automated assembly line include:
Robotics. Robotics play a fundamental role in automated assembly lines. They can perform various types of repetitive manufacturing tasks, including painting, welding, assembly, and much more, with improved efficiency and reduced human error.
Conveyor Systems. These systems are used to move products and materials between workstations.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). These robots transport materials and products throughout a plant or warehouse environment, reducing the need for human workers to move heavy loads.
Testing. Automated testing stations carry out the required tests to ensure a product meets predetermined criteria and adheres to the necessary standards.
Marking and Traceability. These stations add crucial information, such as lot and batch numbers, to products to aid in traceability, quality assurance, and regulatory compliance.
Packaging. Typically the final step in an assembly line, packaging robots can be programmed to pack individual products in various positions on trays, boxes, or pallets.
Assembly. Robots are not always the ideal solution; non-robot assembly stations can perform assembly steps when convenient.
Benefits of a Fully Automated Assembly Line
Fully automated assembly lines offer the following benefits:
Increased Productivity. Automation boosts productivity by increasing production speed, eliminating human error, and reducing manual labor.
Consistency. Automation can carry out tasks with optimal consistency and accuracy, ensuring the same level of quality for each part.
Cost-effectiveness. Automated machinery can perform repeated tasks 24/7 with fewer errors and little human intervention. This lowers labor costs as well as costs associated with wasted materials and reworking.
Safety. Automation enhances safety by eliminating the need for human workers to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks.
Improved Quality Control. Automated systems can include sensors and other inspection technologies to check for part defects and other errors. This results in less waste and improved product quality.
Improved Use of Resources and Time. Automation allows human workers to focus on more complex tasks, enhancing overall production efficiency.
Improved Customer Satisfaction. Because automated assembly lines offer higher speeds and enhanced precision, customers will receive products on time and with consistent quality.
Semi-Automatic Assembly Lines and How They Compare
While fully automated assembly lines use machines and robots to perform all manufacturing tasks, semi-automatic assembly lines combine machinery with human labor. This type of automation solution is well-suited for low-volume production lines that require a higher degree of flexibility and customization. Although semi-automated systems still incorporate various automated aspects, they require human intervention for loading/unloading materials, performing quality checks, and monitoring production processes.
Depending on your particular needs, semi-automated assembly lines may be a better solution, offering various benefits, such as:
Faster implementation times
Lower capital costs
Can solve bottleneck issues
Automate Your Assembly Line With Help From AMD
Whether you choose a fully-automated or semi-automated production line, automation can help to boost productivity, increase quality, and reduce human error. At AMD, we specialize in custom-built assembly line automation solutions. With expertise in manufacturing, engineering, and system integration, we can deliver quality automation solutions that meet your unique requirements.
The experts at AMD can visit your facility to help you determine which automation option is the best fit for your operation. Contact us or request a quote today to schedule a visit.
Integrating automated manufacturing equipment into your facility requires a well-developed customer service process that covers you from purchase to implementation and after-sale maintenance. To ensure the success of your automated production project, there are several key components that you should look for in a partner. In addition to maintaining close relationships between engineers and customers, your automated production partner should communicate effectively, collaborate with customers, and offer thorough testing to ensure quality and performance.
Close Relationship Between Engineers and the Customer
The engineer and customer relationship is crucial to implementing an automated production line successfully. This success stems from the engineer’s capacity to address the client’s challenges and meet their production line needs reliably and efficiently. AMD’s engineers collaborate with the customer and make a substantial effort to understand the client’s budget, production objectives, and expectations to successfully establish a relationship.
Our engineers share their design guidance and technical expertise to deliver solutions that align with the client’s constraints, priorities, and expectations at a cost-effective price. We make sure the project adheres to the client’s expectations by providing consistent updates as the project develops. Before a production of a new machine begins, customers have to approve a fully designed machine so it meets all the customers expectations.
Communication is vital for clarifying the client’s preferences and requirements. Miscommunications can result in misunderstandings and a solution that fails to meet the customer’s requirements. At AMD, we rely on seamless communication to create a custom automated production line that adheres to our client’s specifications. We work with a single-point-of-contact approach where the lead engineer will oversee the project all the way from concept to runoff at your facility and he will be responsible for all the communication with the customer.
AMD works closely with customers to understand the fine details and meet their objectives and goals. Our consistent communication keeps the client informed of the project’s progress and potential challenges during the implementation process. This also allows us to get valuable feedback from our customers, which can be used to make the necessary adjustments and improvements to their automated production line.
When AMD collaborates with customers, we are able to deliver the most successful projects. We collaborate with customers throughout the entire project, from machine design to post-installation repair and part replacement services.
Collaboration is vital to successfully implementing automated production lines and requires consistent communication and coordination between people, processes, and components involved in production. This level of collaboration ensures the production line is profitable, productive, efficient, and safe.
Successful testing is critical to ensuring the automated production line will meet the client’s expectations. Our in-house equipment testing capabilities offer the following benefits:
Machine Debugging: We evaluate the machine’s performance under each possible scenario to ensure everything remains functional and in place. We run the machine for several hours, ensuring we can overcome each potential challenge.
Optimize Efficiency: We can identify inefficiencies, malfunctions, and bottlenecks through testing to optimize efficiency and throughput while reducing the production line’s potential downtime.
Quality Assurance: Our testing ensures proper calibration of the machine to produce consistent results within the client’s specifications. This helps to minimize defects and provide high levels of quality.
Customer Specific Guidelines: We accommodate any testing procedure required by the client.
Automation Equipment From Advanced Manufacturing Development
At AMD, we create innovative manufacturing solutions that improve the reliability and profitability of assembly lines. We offer a range of solutions, from simple machines that replace a single operation, to fully automated manufacturing lines
We have over 100 skilled engineers and have completed more than 1500 projects successfully. For more information about our capabilities, or to learn more about how AMD can ensure the success of your project, contact us or request a quote today.
Automation equipment can deliver significant value to manufacturing companies if done right. Automation projects should always be justified from a financial standpoint, so it’s important to select a solution that fulfills production needs while being able to minimize costs over the long term.
At Advanced Manufacturing Development (AMD), our team has more than 25 years of industry experience creating automation solutions that fit our clients’ budgets and business strategies. We have over 100 engineers and technicians that can incorporate cutting-edge automation technology into individual assembly stations, high-speed stations capable of managing 100 ppm, and fully automated manufacturing lines. Since we first opened our doors in 1996, we’ve completed more than 1,500 industrial automation projects.
Start your project by considering the different degrees of industrial automation—and the potential financial costs and benefits of each system—to zero in on the right fit.
Degrees of Automation
There are four degrees of automation used in manufacturing facilities:
This is the lowest level of automation where all tasks are performed manually by human operators. There is no involvement of automated systems or machinery.
At this level, some tasks or processes are automated while others still require manual intervention. Certain repetitive or time-consuming tasks may be automated to improve efficiency and reduce human error.
Process Control Automation
At this level, the focus is on automating control systems for monitoring and regulating specific processes. Automated control systems, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or distributed control systems (DCS), are employed to manage and optimize process variables.
Full automation refers to a system or process where all tasks and operations are completely automated, and human intervention is minimal or non-existent. The system can perform complex functions independently without the need for constant human monitoring. Full automation does require having an experienced technician that can address any issues the machine might encounter over its lifetime.
Breaking Down the Benefits of Manufacturing Automation
Automation brings numerous unique benefits, and it is one of the most important long-term investments manufacturers make in their facilities. A successful automation solution will provide benefits in one or more of the following areas:
Production Volume: An automated line could increase production volume under a set level of constraints. We usually see this when our customers are having trouble meeting demand for their products, or are constrained by a low supply of labor, space, or time.
Cost Decrease: Automation systems are highly relevant for customers that are having trouble sourcing the right talent for their manufacturing operations. A single automated system can help your existing workforce be more efficient and decrease the need to hire and retain additional headcount. This is particularly relevant in a tight job market.
Quality Improvement: Automated systems will deliver great repeatability across a wide range of complex manufacturing operations such as welding, assembly, machining, and more.
Breaking Down the Costs of Manufacturing Automation
Automated solutions require a significant capital investment and some ongoing costs associated with the new equipment, such as:
Experienced Workforce: For most automation systems, your organization will need to retrain or hire and train employees that can service and operate your chosen solution.
CAPEX: This includes the automation system itself and ancillary hardware and tools. Setting up the equipment will also represent other discrete and continuous expenses such as rent for the space, shipping costs, etc.
Maintenance: This includes all expenses associated with the maintenance of the equipment. This can include changing equipment once its useful life is over, replacing parts that are under stress, and preventive maintenance of equipment systems such as hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical, etc.
By categorizing these benefits and costs, your organization can understand the automated solution’s ROIC, where those costs fit into your budget, and determine what level of automation is best for you.
Other Cost Considerations for Manufacturing Automation
Total cost considerations can be complex to estimate. Consider these costs that are usually overlooked as you finalize your estimates:
Comprehensive purchase price, which may include:
Getting a higher-quality automation system that meets regulatory standards in your industry
Costs incurred throughout the system’s usable lifespan:
Cost of variable life cycles
Potential downtime during repairs, maintenance, and modifications
Inefficiencies after adoption
Cost of training
Your new automation systems won’t immediately be optimized for your production. New automation systems need time to reach their full potential and become a seamless part of your processes.
Request a Quote for a Precise Cost-Benefit Breakdown for Your Next Project With AMD
At Advanced Manufacturing Development (AMD), we partner with each client to help develop a cost-effective plan for automation. Learn more about the costs and considerations of implementing automation by calling our team . You can also request a quote by contacting our team online.
Assembly machines and robotic technology contribute significantly to the appliance manufacturing industry. They’re highly effective in smaller assembly applications, putting together household appliances like toasters, irons, or vacuum cleaners. However, for companies that manufacture high volumes of large white goods like clothes washers or refrigerators, in many cases, robots currently handle only those tasks that aren’t part of the assembly process, like stamping, machining, painting, and product testing.
As the market continues to evolve with innovations in automation technology, furthering robotics integration into the appliance industry’s assembly lines for large appliances is the logical next step. Appliance manufacturers can achieve an optimal return on their investment with faster, more accurate, and highly efficient production processes that provide the benefits of operational flexibility and decreased costs.
Appliance manufacturers have to consider automation when designing new products to make its use favorable. This concept means including features in the different components that make it easy for an automatic system to orient them and assemble them into the product, taking into account that the robot will always make the same trajectory and movements and doesn’t have the capability to make small tweaks or process modifications to force an assembly to happen. Manufacturers have to update the design of the appliance to make full use of the capabilities that an automatic system can provide instead of trying to have robots do the tasks that humans do or are good at doing.
Growing Demand for Automation in Appliance Manufacturing
After the automobile industry, the appliance manufacturing sector comes in as the second-most automated industry worldwide. From toasters to refrigerators, appliances all utilize complex electrical components that manufacturers must carefully assemble, welding them on the production line. Robotic automation allows manufacturers to achieve significant savings in appliance production time as compared to manual processes.
Boston Consulting Group Inc. (BCG) found in 2015 that robots completed a mere 10% or so of tasks in manufacturing operations. However, the same study anticipated an increase to 25% by 2025, with the largest growth projected in the appliance and electrical equipment industries. BCG reasoned that the high wages for human workers in these sectors and the abundance of tasks into which manufacturers can easily incorporate automation would hasten global robotics adoption in these fields.
Benefits of Automation in Appliance Manufacturing
In a world where automation is becoming the norm, it’s important to understand how the appliance manufacturing industry can capitalize on its benefits. Compared to manual operations, automation offers superior:
Precision. Automation allows companies to increase accuracy within their assembly applications for greater uniformity and repeatability. Robotic technology reduces or eliminates the risk of human error, producing higher-quality products for your market.
Speed. Automation increases production speeds, efficiency, and throughput without having to sacrifice quality in large appliances like refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers. It positions manufacturers to be successful and keep up with businesses while operating in a highly competitive market.
Flexible, scalable operations. Manufacturers can quickly adapt robotic technology to production changes, like an altered design or product modification, without necessitating a revision to the actual assembly line. Also, the enhanced productivity allows manufacturers to scale their operations as needed.
Integration capabilities. The ease with which manufacturers can incorporate turnkey automation solutions into their current operations and machinery allows them to seamlessly automate complex processes that would otherwise cost them in greater time and labor investments.
Adherence to industry/regional quality standards. Automation in appliance manufacturing boosts compliance capabilities as the equipment will assemble all appliance parts and equipment per the highest quality standards to meet industry or regional requirements.
Improvements in Automation
Robots are becoming smarter and more beneficial than ever in appliance manufacturing. BCG projected in 2015 that robotic systems’ improvements in flexibility, production speed, and related advantages would continue at a rate of approximately 5% per year. This versatile, highly networked technology is already utilizing advancements like gripping systems and vision sensors to improve and expedite processes.
While the initial investment for automated equipment has traditionally been more cost prohibitive than that of human labor, continuous innovations in information technology and robotics, along with the resulting improvements in assembly line performance and product pricing, will eventually lead to automated practices being the more cost-effective of the two. Incorporating automation now will help appliance manufacturers gain a competitive advantage before 100%-automated assembly lines become fully mainstream in the industry.
Including robots in assembly lines is one option for automation in the appliance industry, but manufacturers can automate many other processes as well, like punching or drilling holes in cabinets, clinching or riveting components, making functional testing, etc.
Contact AMD for Appliance Manufacturing Automation Solutions
Automation increases efficiency, speed, and high-quality product throughput, greatly enhancing the manufacturing process for large appliances. At Advanced Manufacturing Development (AMD), our domestic and international teams of experienced engineers and technicians can assist you in integrating automation solutions into your manufacturing lines. With a focus on design, performance, quality, and budget, we offer fully automated equipment, high-speed stations, and assembly lines capable of producing up to 100 ppm to revolutionize your operation.
Contact us today to learn more about what AMD can do to support automation solutions in your business, or request a quote to get started.
Industrial Automation is Powering and Innovating American Manufacturing
Advances in automation technology improve manufacturing techniques and power product innovation by enhancing how components are produced. Due to technology such as adaptive robotics, machine learning, and others, manufacturing processes are currently more refined and inexpensive than in the past. Investing in these technologies has enabled smaller factories to produce more new products and quickly adjust to changes in demand. These tools encourage innovation and facilitate the development of higher-quality products.
In recent years, new technological advancements in optics, wireless communications, and sensors have enabled automated systems to graduate from simple repetitive tasks to undertaking increasingly complex processes. There is a common misconception that adopting technology like this results in a disadvantage for American workers; however, research and statistics offer a different story.
The Economic Advantages of American Automation
Investing in automated manufacturing technology offers several economic advantages aside from innovation and job growth. Most importantly, automation can enhance productivity. It has been predicted that automation can raise global productivity by 0.8% to 1.4%, which results in higher output, higher margins for businesses, higher wages for workers, and lower prices for consumers.
This productivity growth especially helped during the pandemic. Despite lockdowns and reduced workforces, automated equipment helped to raise U.S. productivity by nearly 4% since 2019. Companies are expected to continue investing in newer technologies through 2024, which will further boost productivity and enhance overall living standards.
The Boom in Robotic Automation & Its Benefits for Manufacturers
In recent years, an ever-increasing number of manufacturers have been adopting robotic automation solutions. Reuters reports that in 2021, North American companies invested over $2 billion in robotic manufacturing solutions, a 28% increase from the previous year. This increase can be credited to the many benefits that robotic automation provides, such as process optimization and increased supply line resilience.
While there is currently a record demand for products, supply chain challenges are increasing production difficulties. Robots mitigate many of these issues for manufacturing companies, including a lack of labor resources. Robotic automation can be applied to any industry to eliminate errors caused by highly repetitive work, as well as improve safety, increase throughput speed, and improve processes. Overall, industrial robots have helped manufacturing companies in four key ways:
Increasing manufacturing company resilience
Optimizing processes to increase efficiency
Help manufacturing companies keep up with record product demand despite supply chain challenges
Alleviate strain on manufacturing companies due to labor shortages, as robots can fill positions that are challenging for human workers to fill
Manufacturers are seeing the undeniable benefits of robotic automation, and experts predict an increase in robots in the workplace. This is currently being seen across many industries. For example, while the automotive industry has historically been the largest user of robotics, the electronics industry is currently the world leader in robotics acquisition, with more industries following suit.
Industrial Automation Doesn’t Eliminate Jobs or Hinder Job Growth
A commonly expressed fear of industrial automation is that it would eliminate jobs. However, in actuality, these advancements are creating new types of jobs. The World Economic Forum projected that by 2022, automation would be responsible for 133 million new jobs despite a 75 million loss. This can be seen historically as well, when the invention of computers displaced secretaries and typists but created a demand for IT professionals and technicians.
Robots are often involved in misconceptions about automation; however, the facts show that robots actually create significantly more jobs than they displace. Robotics upskill workers, allowing them to obtain additional capabilities in automation. The reliable productivity robotic solutions provide has even enabled many manufacturers to expand and hire more workers.
How to Upskill Workers
A barrier to adopting industrial automation solutions is that workers might not have the necessary skillset. This is where an automation integrator can help. An integrator incorporates a robot into a manufacturing environment and ensures workers understand how to operate it. Automation integrators, such as AMD, provide a manufacturer with all the tools they need to be successful and self-sufficient. This can involve training the manufacturer on operating automated equipment, being available to provide tech support, and more.
Industrial Automation Costs
While automation systems might seem prohibitively costly upfront, particularly to small or mid-sized manufacturers, the undeniable ROI they provide ensures they quickly pay for themselves. Some of the most significant financial benefits of automation systems include:
Improved product quality
Increased production capacity
Safer working conditions
When considered in the long term, adopting automation solutions can significantly improve the financial success of businesses of all sizes.
AMD is Helping American Manufacturers, Like You
While in the past there have been numerous misconceptions about the effects of automated manufacturing solutions, this technology is rapidly being adopted by a range of industries, with demonstrated positive results. AMD helps manufacturers of all sizes successfully automate their facilities and become self-sufficient. We work closely with our customers to craft solutions that meet their every need and goal.
At AMD, we use CNC machining to produce our automation system parts in-house, delivering high-quality solutions every time. Some of the industries we help automate include automotive, appliances, consumer goods, and much more. To learn more about the solutions we offer, contact us. You can get started on a personalized system today by requesting a quote.
Laser marking leaves a permanent mark on a surface using a concentrated beam of light. Laser marking includes a wide range of applications that use UV light, green laser, continuous-wave, pulsed, and fiber technology to create concentrated light energy. Fast and easily automated, laser marking can permanently label a range of materials, from paper to steel.
Numerous industries rely on lasers to mark goods and parts with graphics, identification codes, lettering, and machine-readable data like barcodes. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the many applications for laser marking and how incorporating a marking system into the production line provides a competitive advantage for manufacturers.
How Laser Marking Systems Are Applied
As the demand for part identification and traceability grows in product design and development, laser marking proves to be an essential and growing component in various industries. Manufacturers and other industries rely on marking machines for direct part labeling and identification applications. Often these identifiers must comply with government regulations and international industry standards.
Laser marking systems can reliably mark surfaces with minimal shape limitations, including curved, soft, hard, flat, convex, and concave surfaces. Marking systems offer an ideal direct part-marking solution for almost any automated production line. Custom laser marking solutions can integrate into virtually any process flow, providing an ability to easily apply logos, text, numbers, graphics, dates, and other markings.
The following materials are ideal for laser marking: