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Future of AI & Robotics 2022

Use Automation to drive sustainability

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George Thomson

Sales Manager, Güdel UK and Chairman, BARA

Automation can be far more than just a way of improving efficiency or reducing an operator’s exposure to dull, dirty or dangerous operations.

I’m sure that automation is not the first thing that you may think of when the topic of discussion is centred on sustainability. However, I believe it should be.

Advantages of automation

When specified and implemented well, automation can also be used as a way of reducing waste. Two possible ways to improve quality could be to implement automated vision or coordinate measuring machine (CMM) inspections between processes to ensure products are positioned in a repeatable manner and are still within tolerances so that the process is less likely to produce a ‘bad’ product.

I will use a machine tending process as an example. When robotics is used for machine tending, it should be a given that the blank is loaded into the machine in a repeatable manner. However, if regular quality checks are not in place, there could be a full batch run before an out-of-tolerance machine is discovered. This may result in several parts either requiring rework or perhaps getting scrapped altogether.

When specified and implemented well, automation can also be used as a way of reducing waste.

Getting it right the first time

By implementing the regular automatic checks, tool wear as an example can be discovered so an intervention can be undertaken much earlier in the process. The last thing anyone wants is for a part to get to the end of the process only to find that step one was out of tolerance. Finding an issue late in the production cycle could mean a product would need to be reworked or scrapped after it has gone through several other processes, thus wasting time and energy.

There are loads of other examples where automation can be used to reduce waste. I have been involved in projects where the savings by simply reducing waste has paid for the automation project in a relatively short time.

Starting your own journey

So, the next time your company is discussing sustainability — why not look at the possibility of using automation as part of the solution? If you would like to start your automation journey but don’t know where to start – I would highly recommend visiting the BARA website where we have outlined several topics under the ‘Expert Advice’ section to give initial information. While you’re there, why not register for our next Roundtable discussion?

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