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  • Writer's pictureStefan Oberdieck

First steps towards production automation


What actually is production automation?


As the name suggests, production automation is a sub-area of ​​automation. With this type of automation, an attempt is made to technically set up parts or even the entire production in such a way that it can produce as autonomously as possible and without human influence.


Does production automation really make sense?


Automation, especially production automation, is becoming more and more important. Due to the globalized procurement market and the resulting increase in competition, it is important to meet market requirements in terms of speed, quality, availability and price. Therefore, in most cases, the question of meaningfulness can be answered with "yes".


In the end, you can often answer the question yourself with a simple calculation. Because with the help of production automation you usually want to produce faster, better and more cost-effectively. This means you calculate the costs for automation and divide them by the resulting savings (per month). And you already have an indication of when the investment will have amortized. This often could be the case after a relatively short time.

A quick example

An employee (full-time) completes a work step in production. Thanks to the automation, this work step can be mapped completely automatically (e.g. by a robot). This means that the investment pays off after less than a year if the costs for the entire automation (including running costs for the machine) do not exceed the employee's annual salary (including additional costs).

The focus of such investments should not be on saving employees, but on generating growth. Employees who have been "saved" by automation can be used again in other areas and, for example, expand production capacities.


Does good automation have to be expensive?


Often you do not want to automate your entire company at once, but only individual work steps or production areas. And you can do that with a small budget.

A good example of how production automation does not necessarily have to be expensive is the igus "RBTX" platform. The solutions offered here are deliberately designed for "low cost automation" and still offer a wide range of possibilities.

Ultimately, you can automate almost everything in production. It is always important to keep an eye on the relationship between costs and benefits. As a rule, small automation solutions should pay for themselves within a short period of time. It often pays to involve experts. In most cases, an initial consultation is free of charge and non-binding.


Conclusion


If you don't want to lose touch and/or want to increase your effectiveness in order to establish yourself on the market in the long term, you can not ignore production automation. Big players such as BMW, VW or Daimler have already automated large parts of their production. However, it is often sufficient or a good start to have parts of the production done by machines. It may also make sense to use so-called cobots, which facilitate and accelerate work steps in interaction with humans or even make them possible.


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