#ThoughtsOnRobots: EandM USA
Justifying the investment is foremost on most people’s minds when they invest in collaborative automation. We asked robotics specialists Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington from EandM to share their advice on how to get the most value out of collaborative automation. Here are their thoughts:
High-value collaborative automation is not without its barriers, according to Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington, robotics specialists at EandM in the US:
“Some customers are deterred by both the traditional view of robotics being expensive and hard and by the hype around collaborative automation. There is a productive middle ground to be found between these extremes. That is where the high-value opportunities for collaborative automation lie,” the two experienced robotics specialists explain.
Better ROI in robots
“We’re seeing rapid growth and interest in integrating collaborative and lightweight robotics into existing workflows,” Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington say.
They put this development down to robots becoming easier to use and less expensive, and to the fact that labor is getting harder to find for certain tasks.
Customers are becoming more comfortable working with robots themselves, and robots are easier to re-purpose for future needs.
All of this means better ROI in robots.
“We’re also noticing an increasing trend from our customers to build locally, while staying globally competitive by using a high level of automation, including robotics,” the two specialists explain.
Talk to the people
One thing that Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington keep emphasizing is the need to engage employees in the automation project. This is crucial to the success of the project – and hence to the ROI.
“Talk to the employees first before you do anything. Make sure that they buy into the project, and that they are excited to move on to more engaging work,” urge Lillie and Andrew.
Engaging your employees in the automation process is not a one-off job. Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington recommend that you keep coming back to the workers for further insights and feedback throughout the automation process:
- Talk with the people working on the line: What do they think could be made easier or better?
- Have a robotics specialist follow the workflow and suggest where the opportunities might exist and help you identify where the highest value to the business lies.
- Design the solution.
- Talk to the people. Get their feedback on the solution.
- Commission the robot.
- Install the robot.
- Talk to the people again. Teach them how to operate the robot.
- Measure the actual business value of the robot.
Case: Pick-place-inspect robot relieves workers of repetitive tasks
One of EandM’s customers was experiencing a significant amount of turnover of workers assigned to quality control of their plastic parts. The work was boring, and the process of hiring and training new operators was costly.
The customer worked with EandM to automate the task with a collaborative application.
The robot picks up the part from the finished assembly conveyor, then places it on a vision-based inspection station. Depending on the result, the part is then binned by the robot as “good” or “scrap”.
The robot is easy to use, setup is rapid. Operators have been given more engaging jobs, and the robot works collaboratively alongside the humans.
“Collaborative applications make it easier to engineer a safe solution, but safety still has to be considered. We recommend that you complete a risk assessment and acquire the resources to assist,” Lillie Deas and Andrew Etherington say.
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
With the dawn of smarter, more adaptive tooling, robots can now function with greater speed, strength, safety and precision, accomplishing a wide range of tasks, while maximizing ROI. Learn more on how you can enable faster production at lower costs by downloading our free eBook.
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