Reshoring Manufacturing Through Robotics
For several years U.S. manufacturing suffered from offshoring. Many manufacturers both large and small exported their productions to other countries. The main reason for the mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing was due to the high costs associated with domestic productions. U.S. manufacturers saw it increasingly difficult to compete on the global level with high production costs that depleted their revenues. However, in recent years there has been a renewed push to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. and now it is possible thanks to industrial robots.
In the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and consumers experienced first-hand the risks of offshoring manufacturing. Supply chain interruptions across multiple industries left shortages of many essential items. Now many are calling for the return of U.S. manufacturing especially for critical items such as medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. The growth of industrial robots and highly automated factories can allow for the reshoring of U.S. manufacturing. Automating productions with industrial robots can significantly lower the cost of domestic manufacturing, which is the main reason for offshoring.
Industrial robots can significantly lower labor costs by automating production related tasks. They require no salary or benefits and are one of the few investments that will pay for themselves over time. Many are able to capture their ROI relatively quickly due to the efficiency of robots. In addition, the cost of industrial robots has decreased in recent years, making robotic automation more affordable. There is also a huge used industrial robot market. Buying a used FANUC Arcmate 120ic can save companies nearly 50% of the cost to buy a new robot. Buying used robots is an extremely cost-effective means to automate. The lower cost of used robots can make automating an entire manufacturing facility affordable to achieve a complete lights-out manufacturing concept.
Automating manufacturing with industrial robots significantly increases productivity, allowing more products to be completed in less time, reaching consumers quickly and further saving on production costs. Robots operate at incredibly fast speeds, allowing for greater throughput. They are also capable of operating for longer periods of time. The Yaskawa MH180 can run twenty-four hours a day. All this translates to faster cycle times and greater productivity enabling companies to produce more products in a shorter amount of time. Products are able to reach consumers faster, further reducing manufacturing costs by reducing production times.
Articulated robots reduce material waste with their accuracy and by eliminating human errors. Conserving materials also helps to keep production costs in check. The high repeatability and accuracy of the FANUC Lr Mate 200ic ensures uniform products, preventing waste and rework, both of which can negatively impact production costs.
Even for operations that cannot easily be completely automated by robots, collaborative robots can be implemented to increase productivity, help conserve manufacturing costs, and allow for reshoring. Cobots can directly assist workers with their enhanced safety features. The Universal UR10 can operate safely alongside workers, allowing for human and robot collaboration.
The automation of factories with industrial robots provides several cost saving benefits that allow companies to increase their revenues and expand their profit potential. Combating the cost of domestic manufacturing with robots is fueling companies to reshore their manufacturing back to the U.S.