When a manufacturing organization seeks robotics automation, the first question a robot OEM or robotics system integrator should ask is “why”?
In other words, before suggesting a solution, it’s important to understand the problem. And the clearest measure of a process challenge is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
First, it’s essential to ensure the manual process is optimized; then it’s time to automate redundant tasks. Manufacturing engineers then need to measure their current workflow around OEE for each asset in a value stream.
The OEE calculation can help many manufacturers without investing in robotics, by assessing the effectiveness of such equipment as their turning center, press or welding machine. Simply put, they should benchmark current workflow before looking to automate. Robotics are most effective in automating redundant tasks, after a process has been evaluated for reliability and optimized in terms of production flow and OEE of existing assets. Only then should robotics come into the picture.
Manufacturers who understand OEE and how to optimize it can protect capital by moving to robotics only when careful prior steps ensure that robotics are truly the right choice.
By Andy Glaser