The widening gap of metal fabrication industry skills and the final buyers’ growing demands have made metal fabricators look for ways to improve their efficiency and product quality, even when additional labor is pretty hard to find.
And as the utilization of automation technology to enhance metal fabrication outcomes has risen in popularity as a solution to providing final customers with top-quality and cost-effective metal fabrication products delivered on time, the answer to their needs is pretty evident.
For the best part of innovative fabricators, the answer is automation through robotics technology and new digital platforms. These robots are powered and heavily influenced by recent technology advantages like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). They are built to handle tasks in close proximity to extremely skilled human workers, streamline workflows, and improve overall productivity.
Read along to find out more about how automation is making a massive impact on the metal fabrication industry and is altering it for good.
Improved Consistency Of Final Products
Improved and overall better consistency in finished metal products is perhaps one of the essential benefits automation offers to metal fabricating businesses. The latest generation of manufacturing robots can do the tasks in the same way, every single time, within the slightest margin of error.
While human employees can adapt to new working conditions and solve work-related problems in ways that robots certainly can’t, their performance will never be as consistent as robots. The robots can make the same weld, drill the exact same hole, or move the same sort of raw metal material container from spot A to spot B over and over again.
For example, the processes that fall under the umbrella of sheet metal fabrication include cutting, bending, and punching. These procedures can either be performed manually by a human operator or with the latest-generation robotics that can automate multiple steps in the fabrication process while ensuring 100% precision and a more consistent product.
In situations where the bent and cut metal materials need to meet individual specifications, robotics’ consistency can be a massive advantage for both metal fabricators and end clients.
By automating some of the fabrication procedures within your facility, you can expect to elevate the manufacturing processes’ overall efficiency, as better efficiency is one of the main draws of robotics technology.
Robots are way more efficient than human workers, and in some cases, can do three to four times the work of a human employee in the same amount of time. They can also perform tasks with minimal variation in work quality, which is another super beneficial thing to count on.
Superior efficiency means that fabricating companies can fill more orders with the same number of human employees and resources they have access to at the moment. When client demand is unpredictable, and the labor market is tight, this can be a game-changer indeed.
The efficiency enhancements that automation offers can also cut down lead times, enabling fabricators to take on more clients without the risk of overpromising or overworking their workforce.
Automation Is Providing Access To Better Data
Many robots come equipped with software and sensors that can track a meaningful amount of work-related data like the amount of work done on the facility floor, task completion, and how the robot was performing during that task.
These sensors and software can gather and showcase large quantities of data, which you can use to better-plan your manufacturing processes and workflows.
For instance, you can use this data to recognize mistakes in finalized products. Afterward, you will be able to comb back through the whole processing records to get an idea of what caused the error and how you can limit similar occurrences in the future.
Such information and analytics can provide even more consistent products and help improve the manufacturing time forecasts, helping metal fabricators offer better estimates to final customers and develop more effective work schedules.
Enhancing Safety Matters
The majority of new manufacturing robots come with sophisticated safety features that can make metal fabrication facilities less dangerous for regular human employees. For instance, motion-detecting tools or light curtains can automatically turn off a working machine when a worker comes within an insecure distance. Besides, many collaborative robots (cobots) come with specialized cushions and force-limiters to reduce the risk of injuring a worker.
Autonomous mobile robots that use artificial intelligence-powered technology to move around the manufacturing floor use navigation algorithms and machine vision. These navigation algorithms help the robots to avoid obstacles and workers on the floor and diminish the chance of struck-by incidents.
Besides, it’s estimated that around 13% of all workplace injuries can be attributed to workers with sleep problems. Well, robots can also improve this safety issue over time. Less tired workers are not as likely to make mistakes that can lead to severe accidents, so you can use robots to perform manual manufacturing duties usually performed by human operators on the night shift.
Lowering The Overall Costs Of Production
Even though the initial costs of purchasing automation systems and machines for your facility will be high, over time, rest assured that they’ll cut the overall costs of your metal fabricating production business.
Automation will allow your company to produce more without paying for extra workers. This way, as you’ll see more significant revenues and higher profits roll in, the more you spend on automation, you’ll have the capacity to pay your workers more, so it’s a win-win situation.
Fabricators who invest in automation technologies will see the long-term benefits of robotics and automation, leading to funds that can be spent in other development areas around their facilities.
The progressive automation technology is undoubtedly helping metal fabricators adapt to the evolving industry, one with a growing demand for high-quality end products and a tight labor market.
The most important benefits of automation for the metal fabrication industry, which we mentioned above, are also changing the whole industry by making the technology a crucial asset for smart fabricators who want to improve their plant output without jeopardizing the quality.
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