Large manufacturers often have the luxury to test and employ new technologies as they often have deeper pockets and are less risk-adverse than small to mid-sized (SMBs) businesses. Today’s challenges, however, require companies of all sizes to do some self-reflection. Global supply chain disruptions, ever-changing customer needs, increased global competition, and a growing shortage of skilled talent are forcing manufacturers to not only be more agile, but to do more with less; less people, less time and at lower cost.
One way SBMs can mitigate some of these challenges and futureproof their manufacturing is to implement robotics into their production lines. Robotics can play a significant role in future-proofing manufacturing for small companies by increasing productivity, flexibility, and efficiency. In addition, it can play a key role in helping SMBs in manufacturing to augment their workforce. SOLIDWORKS Robotics expert Tony Karew wrote a blog post on this topic.
Let’s take a look at some of the way robotics can benefit small manufacturing companies:
- Automation: One way robotics can help reduce the need for skilled labor is to automate repetitive and mundane tasks. By eliminating this manual effort, it helps optimize production processes, minimize errors, and improve overall productivity. SMBs can also cut labor costs and increase output and scale their operations by automating tasks such as material handling, assembly, and packaging.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: Modern robotics systems are designed to be flexible and easily reprogrammable. As a result, SMBs can quickly adapt to changing production requirements or introduce new products without the need for extensive retooling or reconfiguration. With the ability to handle different tasks and switch between them efficiently, robotic systems provide the agility needed to respond to market demands.
- Collaborative Robots (Cobots): Unlike traditional industrial robots, cobots are designed to work alongside human operators, enhancing their capabilities and improving safety. Cobots are cost-effective, easy-to-program, and can be quickly integrated into existing production lines. Smaller manufacturers can benefit from the versatility of cobots by automating specific tasks, while retaining the human touch of actual workers for more complex or delicate operations.
- Quality: Robots can significantly improve product quality and consistency by reducing human errors and variations. In addition, Robots can perform tasks with high precision and repeatability, resulting in higher-quality products as well as reduced waste. Delivering high-quality products every time enhances customer satisfaction and builds a reputation for reliability, as it’s always easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones.
- Data you can leverage: Robotics systems equipped with sensors and connectivity capabilities can collect valuable data throughout the manufacturing process that can be leveraged to gain insights into production performance, identify bottlenecks, optimize processes, and make better data-driven decisions. By harnessing the power of their own data, manufacturers can improve efficiency and uncover opportunities for further optimization
- Cost Reduction and Scalability: While implementing robotics initially involves some investment, it can lead to long-term cost savings. By automating tasks, companies can reduce labor costs, minimize errors, and optimize resource utilization. Moreover, as small manufacturers grow, enabling a company to grow and expand while maintaining cost-effectiveness.
- Build Your Workforce: Instead of replacing human workers, robotics can augment their capabilities and free them from repetitive and physically demanding tasks so employees can focus on more complex and value-added activities, such as problem-solving, quality control, or process improvement. Robotics are also a great way to attract new skilled talent and possibly mitigate labor shortages, by making manufacturing jobs more attractive and reducing the physical requirements of workers. You can learn more about building your workforce of the future with robotics by downloading this white paper, “How Robotics Can Help Build Your Workforce of the Future.“
To successfully implement robotics, small to mid-sized companies should consider factors, such as their specific production needs, available budget, skill requirements, and long-term business goals.
Interested in learning more about robot programming? You can walk through a series of tutorials on how to use Robot Programmer by checking out our Robot Programmer Academy. Start your path to automation today!