18th December 2022

The advantages and disadvantages of robotics in manufacturing

Robotics are revolutionising business operations, but is it the right solution for you? Discover the advantages and disadvantages of robotics in manufacturing in this handy guide.

Ideas of robots replacing workers began to develop in the 1960s when the first industrial robot became official in the USA. Since then, robotic advancements have accelerated, particularly in manufacturing, with up to 59% of manufacturers now utilising robotics technology.

So, while we may rest assured that robots aren’t going to replace the human race (just yet), in the meantime, we can celebrate the advantages and consider the disadvantages robotics bring to the manufacturing industry.

Robotics in manufacturing

Why use robots in manufacturing?

The fear or conspiracy concerning robotic superiority comes down to the fact they don’t suffer our mortal human flaws. Essentially, robots speed up processes, produce quality results consistently and reduce costs.

Unlike us, robots don’t require lunch breaks, sleep, or take holidays and can be trusted to work safely and effectively 24/7.

Plus, most manufacturing robotics contain one vital feature the industry loves – automation.

How has robotics changed manufacturing technology?

American Engineer George Charles Devol began developing his industrial robot idea in 1954, with its official release in 1962. Ever since, robotics have impacted society beyond recognition, especially within the manufacturing industry.

With robotics in manufacturing capable of completing tedious and dangerous tasks precisely, reliably, and at high speeds, the need to risk or over-exert manual workers soon became obsolete.

Therefore, the birth of robotics enhanced the manufacturing industry into a new age of automation and mass production.

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How do robots help in manufacturing?

Alongside adding efficiency and productivity to operations, robotics in manufacturing help workers directly with their tasks. For example, the term “cobot” (collaborative robot) is a robot designed for human interaction and collaboration within a shared space.

For safety, traditional robots performing dangerous procedures remain isolated, whereas a cobot works directly with employees. A bit like a co-worker.

How robots are used in manufacturing

Robots are used in various ways depending on the manufacturing purpose and industry.

Here are a few examples of robot functions within manufacturing or warehouse/factory settings.

1. Robotic sortation system
Sortation in manufacturing is the process of identifying and separating items. Traditionally on a conveyor system, a robotic sortation system uses advanced technology based on size, weight, or QR scanning technology to cleverly divert specific items or remove them on their course.

For example, although not within the manufacturing industry, sortation robot systems have been used effectively for recycling, helping separate items into their material type and desired destination. As a sortation solution that offers a fast process, it removes manual workers away from tedious tasks and potential harm.

2. Robotic inspection systems
Declared by RoboDK as “the rising star in the manufacturing industry”, robotic inspection systems analyse operations through mobile or metrology technology. While manual mobile inspection includes drones, robotic metrology takes precise measurements verifying manufactured products.

Robotic inspection systems are proving their ROI, with one example involving Cornell Dublier accelerating its labelling process from 125 parts an hour to 250 with inspection capacitor installations.

3. Robotic assembly systems

Prevalent in automotive manufacturing, robotic arms can assemble car parts such as motors, pumps, wheels, and other features at high speed. Other examples of robotics in manufacturing involve the following mechanical processes and purposes:

  • Material handling
  • Pick-and-place
  • Material dispensing and removal
  • Palletisation and de-palletisation
  • Welding
  • Painting, sealing, and coating
  • Internal logistics

What are the advantages of using robots in manufacturing?

Regardless of your industry sector, operational facility, and functional requirements, robotics applied to your manufacturing processes can bring a whole heap of benefits:

Consistent quality
Manufacturing robotics are programmed to deliver consistent and quality results. As long as you maintain and programme your robotics correctly, you can depend on their ability for precision and reliable results.

Enhanced productivity
Manufacturing robots offer maximum productivity while reducing cycle times. Automation and PLC programming can enhance this feature with increased control and capabilities added to your overall conveyor system.

Increased safety
By replacing manual work with automation robotics, you avoid the risk of danger or harm to employees. Especially if your business operates in hostile manufacturing conditions.

Reduced labour costs
It’s a fact that manufacturing robots function faster than humans and cost less by the hour to run. After the initial investment, robotics quickly restores a healthy ROI while keeping labour costs low.

What are the disadvantages of using robots in manufacturing?

Despite the overarching advantages for manufacturing processes, some people might consider robotics contain some minor disadvantages.

Initial cost
Before you reap the rewards of manufacturing robotics, you need to invest. Pricing can vary with different costs for the level of complexity. However, many manufacturers opt to install robotics because they offer a positive ROI fast and improve long-term revenues.

Rare expertise
Depending on the complexity of your robotics, it may require a specialist operation, maintenance, and programming. For this reason, expertise in this field can be rare and expensive to hire.

Robotics require maintenance to continue to increase your operation productivity and keep labour costs low. Therefore, we recommend regular maintenance to keep your manufacturing robotics operating at maximum capacity.

Speak to a robotics manufacturing specialist

If you wish to advance the operations of your manufacturing processes with enhanced automated robotic technology, get in touch with us today.

At Hills Electrical, we can design, supply, and install state-of-the-art robotics for manufacturing purposes, guaranteed to speed up production and generate a healthy ROI for your business.

From sortation to assembly, handling to inspection, we have the robotic solution to keep your brand moving in the right direction.

For all the latest updates in the manufacturing robotics industry,  follow us on LinkedIn.

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