The first automated production lines were implemented hundreds of years ago, when manufacturers realized that assigning workers a single task in the production process was more efficient than having each worker create the product from start to finish. Today, machines have largely replaced humans in production lines around the world. However, even in the age of elite automation services, manufacturers must still contend with certain issues when automated manufacturing is first implemented, or an existing system is reconfigured.
Ideally, a manufacturer increases capacity as demand for its products grows. However, there are several things that can lead to over production or under production due to changes in demand, such as economic uncertainty, media reports, and consumer trends. For most manufacturers, the answer to wavering demand is rebalancing the line with a process configuration tool that features plug-n-play hardware and software architecture. With such a solution in place, production capacity can be rebalanced within hours to meet changes in demand.
The underutilization or overutilization of particular workstations can cause bottlenecks that reduce the efficiency of the line. On manual production lines, the traditional solution is to place more workers at the site of the bottleneck. With automated assembly lines, the solution lies in implementing automation services software that performs a time study of interlocked tasks, balances the workload to improve efficiency. This solution also prevents particular machines from being overworked and experiencing premature maintenance problems.
Production Lines for New Products
From a manufacturing perspective, the biggest burden of a new product launch is the implementation of a new line. This issue is especially burdensome when a product launch runs over schedule. In most cases, the production line is built after a product is designed. In the event of a late launch, this may be impossible. If so, the only solution is to build the line as the product is designed, which can be accomplished with manufacturing software that allows the production line to be centrally re-configured without performing recoding.
Poor quality is a common problem in the early life of new assembly lines. Beyond bad design principles, products can be poorly produced for several reasons, including: difficulty identifying equipment that causes production defects, making efficiency changes without testing the impact on product quality, and lack of communication between work stations. The most efficient way to address quality issues is to implement software that allows production stations to interlock, and prevents one station from releasing a workpiece to the next one before the proper work is performed.
Changes in production demand, unbalanced workloads, difficulty creating production lines for new products, and low production quality are four problems associated with automated production. Today, these problems can be solved with manufacturing software that allows the line to be reconfigured for new assignments within hours, monitors production efficiency, and interlocks workstations to improve product quality. For more information about software that provides these capabilities, contact a provider of automation services today.