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Factory Automation

3 Reasons To Automate Your CNC Shop Today

May 5, 2017

In the recent national elections much was made of the loss of American manufacturing jobs (7 million since the peak employment year of 1979). Most politicians place the blame squarely on unfair trade policies and lower offshore labor costs. Although these certainly were contributing factors, according to the Department of Commerce, the reality is this: Despite employing fewer workers, manufacturing output in the U.S. has actually doubled since 1979 to an adjusted-for-inflation $1.91 trillion in 2015.

How is it possible that the country is manufacturing more goods with fewer people? Because American companies have learned to make quality parts and products faster and at a lower cost by applying improved technologies – including factory automation. Automation, of course, is also creating new manufacturing jobs, albeit those requiring different and more sophisticated skill sets than previous ones.

Some manufacturers have been reluctant to embrace automation. In fact, it’s estimated that industrial robots are used in only 10% of manufacturing functions that could be automated. If you’ve been putting off investing in automating some or all of your production, now is the time to get on board. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Competitors are changing the game. Developing countries that have relied on cheap labor to compete for manufacturing jobs are in the process of moving toward automation. Why? Because their workers demand a better lifestyle and they realize that labor costs, alone, will not keep them competitive in an automated manufacturing world. China, for example, plans to double its use of industrial robots from 75,000 in 2015 to 150,000 in 2018, according to the International Federation of Robotics, that’s nearly 4 times the rate in North America. Want to stay competitive in a global marketplace? Automate.
  2. Your customers demand it. At a recent supplier conference held by a major customer, a contract CNC shop owner heard this: “If your plant isn’t investing in automation, you won’t be around in five years.” Just in time delivery, tighter dimensional tolerances and the flexibility to quickly change part specifications, are now typical customer requirements. And the demands are only going to increase ­– partly because we live in a world in which expectations rise higher and higher. Soon, for example, you’ll enter your drive-through order for fast food into a kiosk and use your cell phone to pay. Inside, a robot arm will flip your burger and other machines will complete your order. Less chance for errors, quicker turnaround and no difficulty understanding a voice heard through a plastic clown’s head.
  3. You’ll be left behind. If you don’t embrace automation today, it will soon be nearly impossible to catch up. Why? Because the advances just keep on coming
    • With improving vision and gripper technologies, industrial robots will take on even more applications.
    • At the same time, collaborative robots, or cobots, will work alongside employees to make the worker’s job safer, easier and more efficient.
    • Machine tools already use thermal, motion and positioning sensors to improve machining performance. As IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) takes hold, these data, interconnected with the data from other equipment, will dramatically improve your ability to tweak a production process – if you can interpret and apply the information.
    • All of these advances will require an experienced production team well versed in automation principles. If you don’t build up your automation staff today, it may be hard to find qualified people as the demand increases.

Gosiger and Gosiger Automation are uniquely positioned to help manufacturers take first steps into or expand factory automation. Along with the right equipment, technical service and training, Gosiger has 95+ years of manufacturing technology experience, including designing and installing hundreds of factory automation systems. To learn more, contact your nearest Gosiger facility.