Electronics Industry Becomes Biggest Buyer of Industrial Robots

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For the first time since the inception of industrial robots in manufacturing, the electronic industry last year bought more industrial robots than any other industry including the automotive sector. Robots got their start in the automotive industry and they still remain the largest user of industrial robots. However, other industries are making big strides with robotic automation. The electronic industry is not far behind the automotive industry for robot installations and if the current trend continues, they may become the largest robotic user.

Why are Electronic Manufacturers Automating with Robots?

As electronic devices become more advanced and smaller, manual assembly of those devices has become nearly impossible. Today the trend in electronics is to develop the most advanced device possible but in a smaller more compact design. Smaller devices require smaller components, many of which are too tiny for human handling. Whereas a FANUC Lr Mate 200ic can work with small and delicate parts without the risk of damaging them. The advancement of electronic devices means more components and complex assemblies. These may be too time consuming or taxing for manual labor. In addition, many electronic assemblies require clean, sterile environments as their components can become compromised by dust, liquids, or other particles. Articulated robots can help ensure a clean environment, especially those designed for cleanroom operation. The ABB IRB 1200FGL is a cleanroom robot that features a special exterior coating, sealed openings, and non-gassing lubricants to ensure a sterile work environment. Reducing or eliminating entirely human involvement with electronic manufacturing prevents part contamination that could cause defective products.

Other factors that are playing a role in the automation of the electronic industry include worker shortages and the need to lower costs. Many industries are facing labor shortages. Fewer workers are willing to take on manual labor jobs causing voids for manufacturers in the electronic industry. With robotic automation worker shortages and turnover issues are eliminated. In addition, an eight-hour or twelve-hour facility can be turned into a twenty-four-hour operation since six axis robots can operate non-stop.

Lowering the cost to manufacture electronic devices allows companies to sell their products at competitive prices in order to capture as many consumers as possible. No matter how incredible an electronic device may be, if the price is too high not many consumers will buy it. Components that go into electronic devices can be expensive on their own so manufacturers need to cut costs in other aspects of their production. This can be done with robots. Robots reduce labor costs, reduce errors that cause material waste, speed up cycle times, increase productivity, and improve quality. These all help to lower costs allowing companies to keep their prices competitive while also expanding profit potential.

What Applications are being Automated?

In the electronic industry industrial robots are being used to automate assembly, inspection, dispensing, material handling, and packaging applications. The FANUC Lr Mate 200id is an assembly robot ideal for electronic device manufacturing. Integrating robots with vision and forces sensors enhances their operation allowing them to automate many of the complex processes that go into electronics manufacturing.

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