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The manufacturing industry has made incredible advances in technological innovation over the last few decades. Modern-day manufacturers must keep up with these advances in order to maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. Manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to improve their process automation in order to reduce labor costs, lead time, and increase production quality, among other things.
There is no shortage of opportunities for automation in the manufacturing space. According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, manufacturing activities could be automated by as much as 60%, which translates to an increase in both speed and precision, and a reduction in cost.
This is music to our ears here at Modus Advanced.
While this all sounds great for us, what does it mean for you, our valued partner? Let’s dig in.
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What is Manufacturing Automation?
At a high level, manufacturing automation is the use of software or robotic tools to automate a system or a process. We can thank Henry Ford’s moving assembly line from the 1940’s for being a launching point of the rapid increase in manufacturing automation. More recently, the global automation market is projected to be worth more than $136 billion by 2026.
In action, manufacturing automation leverages control system technology to automate manual, repeatable tasks that humans typically perform. In the context of RF shield machining for example, what began as a labor-intensive manual process to create a metal housing, now is a highly automated process using computer numerical control (CNC) systems to create machined parts to scale.
Manufacturing automation is at play in a variety of industries, including medical devices, automotive, aerospace and defense, consumer products, electronics, and packaging to name a few. If there is a simple, repetitive or potentially dangerous task required of an employee, you can assume there is likely an automated solution for it.
To address the elephant in the room, it should be noted that manufacturing process automation is not, in our eyes, a threat to employees. It is an essential and necessary tool for the advancement of any manufacturing business.
Striking the right balance between automation and human workers is at the forefront of our minds. At Modus, this means that we are able to utilize our highly skilled team members in roles that are a true fit for their talents, rather than saddling them with tasks that some might consider irksome, mundane, and repetitive. To us, it is simply a change in roles, not a replacement of roles.
Benefits of Using Automation in Manufacturing
Automation can be used in a variety of ways, and we are only limited by our imaginations. As you can see below, not only does manufacturing process automation increase our speed and precision, but it reduces the number of dangerous, menial, or repetitive tasks required of our team members. That sounds like a win to us.
Here are several examples of the benefits that can come from implementing manufacturing process automation:
- Increased productivity: One of the biggest benefits of automation technology in the manufacturing space is the increased productivity that results from it. Increased operational efficiency reduces overall production costs, and that’s a huge win.
- Improved worker safety: Leave the dangerous or repetitive tasks to the robots and automation tools to complete with worker supervision rather than participation. Additionally, eliminating the strain of repetitive or mundane tasks on team members' bodies can greatly improve employee satisfaction and reduce the possibility of error or injury.
- Improved product quality: It goes without saying that our customers expect nothing but perfection. This is a large part of why automation is so attractive to us. Automation affords us repeatable, high-quality products. It matters to the end user, whether it is a Navy SEAL operating in dangerous conditions or a doctor conducting a life-saving operation. These are scenarios where precision is an absolute must and the cost of poor quality can be devastating.
- Reduced lead time: Part of the mission at Modus is to provide incomparable speed and precision in the manufacturing of your parts. By increasing the speed of production, without compromising quality, we are able to be flexible against market changes and reduce lead time.
- Reduction in labor costs: Mundane activities such as bagging and tagging products can be easily replaced by an automated process. This frees employers to utilize their highly skilled team members for other, more complex work.
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How Modus Advanced is Using Automation in Manufacturing
We will always seek out ways to increase precision and speed, without sacrificing quality, as we position ourselves as the obvious choice to partner with. Manufacturing automation plays a large part in achieving this goal.
We have successfully automated several key stages in our manufacturing process here at Modus, and we’ve seen tremendous benefits. While we can’t give away all of our secrets, here are some of the ways that manufacturing process automation has been implemented across our business:
- Our PRT-X quoting system has revolutionized our sales quote process by reducing the time required to build a full quote down to approximately 3 minutes. We know you’re eager to get started, so by automating this step, we’re able to hit the ground running quickly.
- Our horizontal machining centers (HMC’s) operate with pallet systems and tombstones, allowing us to run lights out overnight. This reduces lead time significantly, getting your product in hand faster.
- All of our machining centers are also fitted with automatic breakage detection programs, to ensure minimal time is lost in the event of tool breakage.
- In our form-in-place (FIP) department, the laser mounted on our dispensing machine scans the gasket shelf prior to dispensing. The scan automatically adjusts the dispense program, ensuring it is within tolerance the first time.
- The UR10e collaborative robot is helping us move toward 100% verification of parts, including those for highly regulated industries like aerospace and defense that expect every single one of their parts to meet their requirements.
It doesn’t stop there. We are looking at ways to automate other processes like post-production packaging to reduce the time it takes to package parts for shipment. This will eliminate the mundane manual labor that our team members are without a doubt grumbling about (it’s okay, we get it). The future looks bright for manufacturing automation at Modus Advanced.
At the end of the day, automation in the manufacturing space isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s become an integral part of our operation here at Modus that we will continue to build upon. As we look toward our future in manufacturing, and how we continue to position ourselves as the obvious choice, it is evident that automation remains necessary to maintain a competitive edge.
If you’re interested in partnering with a top-tier manufacturing partner for your next project, give us a call at 925-960-8700 or contact us online today.