Metal fabricators are seeking ways to increase productivity and product quality, all the while dealing with the widening skills gap and labor shortage. In short, metal fabrication is raw metal materials being made into buildings and structures.
The solution for fabricators is automation that uses digital platforms and robotics technology. Automation robots are designed to undertake duties near human workers, optimizing workflows and boosting productivity. They are powered by technological advancements like AI and the Internet of Things (IoT).
One of the key benefits of robotics technology is increased productivity. Robots are significantly more productive than human labor, sometimes able to perform two jobs at once. Fabricators can fill more orders with the same number of employees and available resources by being more efficient.
This can be a huge asset when the job market is tight and customer demand is erratic. Robotic efficiency enhancements can also help shorten lead times, allowing fabricators to take on more client work without running the danger of making unwarranted customer promises or overworking workers.
One of the most important advantages of automation is the improved consistency of completed items. Within a limited tolerance for error, robots may perform a task the same way each time.
Human employees may be better at problem-solving and adapting to changing work environments than robots, but their output won't be as reliable. These robots can repeatedly drill the identical hole, create the exact weld, or transfer the same kind of raw material container from one place to another.
Consistency and accuracy can be a huge benefit for both fabricators and clients when the lapped and polished material needs to match precise requirements, such as for a semiconductor.
In the automation sector, many jobs are dangerous, dirty, or boring, and these duties are what automation solutions are designed to solve. These tasks are excellent candidates for automation since they either endanger employees or reduce productivity. Automation can also aid in minimizing the repetitive motion that employees must carry out.
For instance, you might have a picking robot in a metal production plant that stretches or bends to reach, grab, and move raw materials. The robot's completion of this task lowers the possibility of a person becoming exhausted from constantly bending, lifting, and moving pallets or material containers. By performing this activity, the robot also lowers the likelihood that a worker may sustain a musculoskeletal injury (MSI) or a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from the strain brought on by repeating the same movements.
Additionally, robots won't become bored. Repetitive actions can wear down hardware, but they won't harm a machine as much as they will a person over time. Reduced exhaustion can also result in more engaged and productive workers who can be assigned more crucial duties that call for creativity and problem-solving instead of repetitive work that can cause exhaustion and accidents.
Modern robots often include state-of-the-art safety features that help reduce worker hazards in metal fabricating factories. For instance, when an employee enters an unsafe zone, light curtains or motion-detecting devices can turn off a machine that is in use. Some collaborative robotics have cushions or force limiters to help lower the possibility of worker injury.
Machine vision and navigation algorithms are widely used by autonomous mobile robots, which use AI-powered technologies to navigate themselves about a facility. These algorithms aid autonomous robots in avoiding hazards and floor workers while lessening the chance of collisions.
Over time, safety can also be increased by reducing worker tiredness. Less weary and more engaged workers are less likely to make errors that could cause major mishaps. According to studies, 13% of workplace safety events can be attributed to employees who have sleep issues. Chronic fatigue can significantly impact workplace safety.
Industrial robots are fitted with sensors and software that track job-related information, including the quantity of work done, when a task was finished, and how the robot acted at the time. These sensors can gather large amounts of information regarding plant workflows and processes.
The processes utilized in plants can also be improved using this data. For instance, you could use data to find errors in final welds. Then, you might be able to look back over the processing history to better understand what went wrong and how you can avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
Platforms for information and analytics can deliver improved production time forecasts and overall more consistent products. Fabricators may be able to provide clients with more accurate estimates and create more effective work schedules as a result.
Metal fabrication is a constantly changing sector with a limited labor pool and rising demand for accurate and high-quality products. The industry is being helped dramatically by advanced automation technology.
For metal fabricators looking to increase plant productivity without compromising quality, the solution is here. Automation's primary advantages—better efficiency, uniformity, and safety—along with the data that new robots can provide, make the technology a considerable asset.