7 Ways Automation Boosts Quality

Increasing Quality Through Automation

Automation lets manufacturers create products with precision once thought impossible to achieve while creating less waste and using fewer raw materials. Product suppliers like bottling companies accurately label and sort thousands of items per hour, handling repetitive tasks that could cause injuries and allowing workers to be employed in positions making greater use of their skills. Inventory of finished products is better managed since products can be made in reduced lead times as needed instead of in batch quantities.

Here are 7 ways automation leads to higher quality products, service, and fulfillment.

1. Accurate Output

Automation isn't just for mass produced products. Custom-made products like kitchen counters or doors for specialty cars can have dimensions programmed into the robotics equipment so the finished product matches what the designers envisioned.

2. Accurate Repetition

The same job that takes place hour after hour can lead to fatigue or distractions, and tired workers are prone to make mistakes. Automated systems with vision imaging are able to spot mistakes like a poorly affixed label and still process thousands of items in a short span of time. Robots can sort through a bin of mixed items and choose the correct ones. The line workers are better used elsewhere to supervise the automation machinery or work in a position that better leverages their skills.

3. On Demand Production

Midmark Manufacturing of Versailles, Ohio, uses automated spot welding to make exam tables one-at-a-time when customers need them instead of producing batch quantities. The tables can be made with a 3-day notice compared to a previous 3-week lead time. The finished product can hold up to 500 pounds instead of the previous 325 pounds. For cabinets, 58 mark-free spot welds join seven sheet-steel components in a process that takes 5 minutes. Automation helps companies make a better product in less time.

4. Manual Assistance

The strain on employees handling non-ergonomic tasks can be nearly eliminated using service robots in places like manual workstations in hospital kitchens. Technology companies OrgaCard and Kuka Systems have created a lightweight solution that makes manual work-stations more cost-effective. The same human-robot technology can be used with industrial applications.   

5. Flexible Assembly

Vision-guided automated systems can adapt to changes in the production process and improve areas like the assembly of components to the thousandths of an inch. People may be able to achieve the same result but the process will take longer and errors due to fatigue and distraction are inevitable. A vision-guided system that's running well can run efficiently for years with almost no downtime.

6. Specific Applications

An automated system can be developed so task-specific equipment is used from one station to another. A painting application can be fitted with specific nozzles and spraying rates and the next station may do something like dispense adhesives and be programmed to exact specifications for its task.

7. Increased Pride

Workers are less exposed to dangerous situations such as cutting and slicing operations in industries like manufacturing and food safety. Rather than being used in very low-skill positions, people are needed to get certified in supervising automated systems. The value placed on employees can lead to greater ownership of the overall finished product and pride in craftsmanship.

Success breeds success. Companies that automate find that improved quality leads to fewer errors, increased customer satisfaction, and greater sales. The newly realized profits can be invested back into mission-critical areas of the business to maintain the quality that was achieved.