Automation & Robotics: Driving Industrial Productivity

Automated processing helping to sustain Australian manufacturing into the future


In Australia, manufacturing remains a cutting-edge and versatile industry and, despite some tough challenges, it has demonstrated a natural ability to adapt and prosper.

As the global economy’s centre of gravity shifts closer to Australia, local manufacturers will be called upon to deliver innovations in food, housing, medical and consumer products – some of which have not yet been imagined. With the mining boom waning, manufacturers are required, to help drive our economic growth.

More than ever before, Australia requires a smart new breed of manufacturers to lead the charge, as we enter the next era of industrial productivity.


Unique challenges

The next 12 months will prove to be testing times for industry. Rising labour costs, skilled worker shortages, low-cost imports and the high Australian dollar are just some of the challenges companies face.

Importantly, with the recent announcements of the imminent closure of all automotive assembly lines within the next two to three years, many Australian-based companies will need to adjust their business models in order to serve non-automotive customers, or commence or expand export activity, with a greater focus on global supply chains. Add to this a dwindling pool of natural resources and a rising population, and it becomes clear just how important it is for manufacturers and research and development (R&D) centres to find smart new solutions in order to remain competitive. But with so much at stake – and a list of bills and efficiency targets growing by the month – investing in new technology at the plant level, to gear-up for future growth is often considered an insurmountable obstacle. While some companies are forging ahead, developing new manufacturing strategies that will increase their future productivity, some businesses are finding it difficult just to stay afloat.

In the years to come, manufacturers across Australia will need to reinvigorate their growth plans, build their capabilities, lift business innovation, and establish the foundations for a more resilient and diversified economy, to take the country forward in to a new age. Key to this evolution is investing in a new breed of smart technology, such as robotics and automated processing systems.

Now and in the future, it is of the utmost importance that manufacturers – small and large – are given the tools to help them understand how cost-effective, safe, reliable and easy-to-use, good automation and robotics systems are.

Robotics in a production environment

Beyond the production environment, robots are also driving down cost and increasing productivity in areas such as warehousing and distribution.


Technology for productivity

Technology is a well-recognised enabler of productivity improvement. Robots are usually associated with handling repetitive tasks in a process – either in high volume production roles or where flexible handling systems are needed for frequent changes. New technologies are proven to transform productivity and efficiency for the better; integrating them into existing facilities results in much faster output, higher quality and greater flexibility, in virtually all production processes.

The latest statistics from the IFR indicate a record-breaking number of industrial robots are being installed worldwide. And it’s no wonder: with a growing number of case studies showing why it’s worth investing in robotic automation, the global robotic ranks are expected to swell to 1.3 million machines in 2014.

Manufacturers around the globe have been touting the importance of operations analysis for years, with the old adage “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” now a part of the industry vernacular. More recently, companies are realising that gaining control of their key process variables – quality, safety and waste – is not just beneficial, but paramount in order to remain competitive.

It is well-known that if quality, safety and waste are managed correctly, production costs will fall. In the future however, successful manufacturers will focus their efforts not only on reducing cost, but identifying efficiencies. Streamlining workflows, and improving the visibility of enterprise information, will help manufacturers make important decisions as they start building a more responsive and agile organisation, through improvement in productivity and efficiency.

While the possibility of reducing day-to-day manufacturing costs alone is a compelling reason to invest in new technology, the industry’s crucial role in the future wealth of our nation makes a critical case for embracing new and proven automated processing techniques.


Don’t get left behind

Sitting still will allow the competition to get further ahead, and ‘band aid solutions’ will often cost more in the long run. With technology suppliers constantly improving their robotics and automation offerings – especially in the areas of speed, power consumption and safety – ‘investing to save’ is the mantra many smart manufacturers are adopting.

Find out how an automation & robotics solution could benefit your business by contacting MAR today.

Source: ABB Australia