According to a survey done by ABB, companies are still unsure about robotic automation and shows misconceptions about sustainability of robotic automation for low volume processes.
Of the 221 companies that responded to the survey carried out on behalf of ABB Robotics UK, 134 are not currently using robots. 27 percent of these respondents identified themselves as operating low volume or bespoke processes which they reasoned not deem as suitable for robotic automation.
“The unfortunate flipside of the success of robotic automation in the automotive industry is that it has led to a popular belief that robots are only suitable for mass production processes,” says Mike Wilson, General Industry Sales and Marketing Manager for ABB’s UK Robotics business. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. Developments in robotic technology have made robots more flexible than ever, enabling them to be quickly switched between completely different products and processes.”
“There is no reason why the same flexibility and agility which enables packaging producers to use the same robots to handle dozens of differently sized and shaped products cannot be readily applied to producing engineered products,” adds Wilson. “While producing an engineered product may be a world away from handling a package, the underlying principle is the same – namely that a robot offers a highly flexible and efficient means of handling different processes and / or products, especially when compared to fixed-purpose machinery.”
Convincing more manufacturers to embrace automation is one of the key recommendations of a new report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG).
“One of the key findings of the report is that the cost-conscious, short-term outlook of British companies has prevented them from seeing the bigger picture when it comes to automation,” says Wilson. “A fixation on the capital outlay cost has meant that the longer term cost benefits of using automation to deliver flexible manufacturing, where the same line can be used to produce multiple products, are ignored.”
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