Eliminating Bottlenecks with Industrial Robots
Bottlenecks can be detrimental to manufacturing, as they can hinder or block the capacity of an entire production. A bottleneck in manufacturing is a process within a sequence of processes that is inefficient which can disrupt the rest of the production. Bottlenecks can either be short term in which they are temporary, or they may be long term in that they are an on-going problem. Consequences of bottlenecks can result in stalled operations, supply overstock, increased costs, and poor employee morale.
Identifying and resolving bottlenecks is key for a successful manufacturing operation. Signs your operation has a bottleneck problem include:
- • Accumulation of Workpieces - Tasks in which input comes in faster than parts can be processed can be a sign of a bottleneck. When input is significantly higher than output workpieces begin to accumulate at a workstation.
- • Long Wait Times - Machines or workstations with long wait times can indicate that a bottleneck is occurring at the prior workstation.
- • High Capacity - Another sign of a bottleneck is a machine or workstation operating at a much higher capacity than others in the production process. This is a sign that the machine is causing others to operate at a lower capacity resulting in a bottleneck.
Resolving Bottlenecks with Industrial RobotsOnce a bottleneck has been identified the next step is to evaluate how it can be resolved. One of the best ways to resolve a bottleneck is through robotic automation. The FANUC M-20ia along with other industrial robots can eliminate bottlenecks through the following:
- • Create Efficient Operations - Industrial robots are highly efficient. They operate at fast speeds without stoppages which allow them to complete more workpieces in less time. One of the keys to eliminating bottlenecks is to improve the efficiency of manufacturing which can be done by automating with the ABB 1600.
- • Reliable Operation - Articulated robots provide consistent and reliable labor. They can operate twenty-four-seven, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Labor shortages related to turnover, worker injuries, sick days, or vacations are eliminated. The reliability of the ABB 6640 prevents labor gaps that can slow or stall operations.
- • Mitigate Errors - Robots are extremely accurate and excel at repetition. They are programmed to follow application parameters without deviating from the given path. Automating reduces or eliminates worker involvement, significantly reducing human errors. The mitigation of errors prevents rework which can cause production delays.
- • Improve Safety - Many manufacturing processes are quite dangerous to workers. Manufacturing accidents can shutdown productions and cause worker injuries. The downtime related to accidents can cause a bottleneck along with worker shortages due to injuries. Removing workers from dangerous jobs improves safety. Robots are designed to perform dangerous tasks, preventing manufacturing accidents and any downtime associated with them.
- • Eliminate Non-value Activities - Six axis robots are designed to operate continuously. They move from part to part without delays or distractions in between. This cuts down on any non-value activities. Workers can become easily distracted through conversations with co-workers or loss of concentration, creating inconsistent and inefficient manufacturing. Automating with robots eliminates any activity that is not valuable to a production as robots only perform the task they are given.