According to Statista, the global market for robotic solutions is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26 percent and will reach just under 210 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. In 2020, a record 2.7 million robots worked in factories around the globe. While large manufacturing organizations have traditionally embraced robotics as a key aspect of their industrial automation modernization plans, significant growth is now taking place among medium-size and small organizations.
For many small plant stakeholders, it’s the first time they are beginning to convert their operations to robotics systems. A critical business decision is to determine when is the time right for converting a manufacturing line over to robotic motion controls.
How robotic solutions are driving industrial automation efficiencies
We at Orbit Motion Systems, a specialty machine builder, industrial automation systems integrator, and Schneider Electric Alliance Partner are experts at deploying robotic solutions into new environments. Many of our customers face the dilemma of not having enough human labor resource to meet the demands of their growing businesses. The current labor shortage is posing challenges and automation through robotics helps to address the issue, while offering existing employees the chance to learn new skills and to shift from manual work to more supervisory roles. Our solutions help our customers to overcome such issues in several ways:
- Higher process efficiency – Some of our customers traditionally hand packed their products. But this manual approach is inefficient both from a labor cost and throughput perspective. Many of these organizations couldn’t produce more product even if they had more people. In these cases, square footage restrictions limit their ability to expand. Their challenge is to balance costs while attempting to meet expected sales and unit production targets. Robotics solutions provide the answers they were looking for by enabling faster production and requiring fewer people in a limited amount of space.
- Phased in approach to robotics automation – When plants are just starting to adopt robotics, they initially seek smaller, low-risk solutions. Whereas many machine builders pursue an “all or nothing” approach that burdens the customer with high up-front costs, our philosophy at Orbit Motion Systems is to first start out by identifying our customer’s principal process bottleneck. Then we propose a small solution, one that might perform picking operations in only one place for example, to help improve efficiency and throughput. Then, once that solution starts to produce positive results, we work with the client to plan and phase-in expanded robotics operations.
- Simulation tools that project efficiency gains – Simulation software allows our customers to visualize and accurately project the productivity gains of our proposed robotic solutions. In fact, the software enables us to run actual PLC code to simulate the mechanics and the robotics. In this way we can test the payload and the throughput, and then begin the process of adding sensors. In essence these tools enable us to design a machine to near production mode, saving our customers both time and expense.
- Hands on training and support – We pride ourselves in investing time with our customers to make sure they can extract the maximum benefit from the solutions we provide them. We are hands-on during the solution set-up. We teach our clients about the controls and about troubleshooting. Our mechanics and electricians work with the customer’s technicians, and we instruct their control supervisors on the PLC logic so that they can diagnose the system without our intervention, if they choose to do so. We also provide useful 3-D Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) that often look more like video games and roadmaps than complicated programmer text. Operators can just zoom in, zoom out, and pan as they navigate the controls of the robotics machines.
Manufacturer support builds confidence
Our close partnership with Schneider Electric helps us to craft reliable, high quality solutions and to better support our clients. Our solution of enclosures, sensors, terminal blocks, PLCs, robots and motion control are often Schneider Electric components. We are able to price aggressively because of our close relationship. Schneider Electric robotics experts often support us during the specification, start-up, and post-installation phases and, if we need for them to come onsite with us, they make themselves available. Customers feel more confident when they know they have the support of both the component manufacturer and machine builder.
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Note: Orbit Motion Systems also DBA as the Atlantic Automation Group LLC.