In manufacturing, automation has existed for several decades as a tool for performing repetitive tasks. Today, though, automation can be a great benefit to production, allowing for flexibility and increased efficiency.
It is through the subtle flexibility of large-scale automation that allows the economy of scope to excel against the economy of scale. Technologies are being developed to allow a variety of parts to be produced through a single system or by a single machine. It is through these changes in large-scale automation that will move a company from the economy of scale into the economy of scope.
Today’s factory automation can perform complicated tasks as well as respond to changes in the production process as they occur.
Up until the 1990s, robots were simple machines that would mostly repeat a single task. But increasing capabilities in computing, sensing, and motion control have brought to fore robots that can do multiple complex tasks. Some can even decide which tasks to do and in which order, based upon live-floor stimuli.
This flexibility and responsiveness of 21st century factory automation is a benefit to today’s manufacturers. It allows for more lean manufacturing, cost savings, and faster changeover when parts or processes change.
Large-scale automation comes from combining robots and machine tools into a flexible system. And designing large-scale automation creates more efficient and elegant manufacturing processes. These processes do not just complete one single task but can perform various tasks within the same setup, with a focus on greater customization for what best fits the customer.
Read more about the benefits of automation on ThomasNet’s Industry Market Trends.