The biggest buyer of industrial robots has always been the automotive industry. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the automotive robots account for almost half of all units sold in the US. According to recent trends, the automotive robotics market is expected to grow to $13.6 billion by 2025. Considering the fact that the automotive robotics market was worth $4.34 billion in 2016, this represents about 14% growth.
The importance of automotive robots
Robots used in car manufacturing offer automotive companies a competitive advantage. Automotive robots not only reduce warranty costs but also improve quality. Additionally, they protect workers from dangerous, dirty and difficult tasks as well as relieve bottlenecks and increase capacity. Automotive assembly plants use machines exclusively for painting and spot welding. However, there are a plethora of other ways of using robots throughout the supply chain
Manufacturers turn to robotic machines for various reasons. In the automotive industry however, three of the biggest drivers are safety, quality and capacity. Here is how it works.
A vast majority of tasks in automotive manufacturing are hazardous with some of them being obviously dangerous such as pouring molten metal into the foundry. Other tasks such as musculoskeletal disorders that result from repetitive motions like twisting and lifting tend to be more subtle. The advantage of automotive robots is that they prevent such risks to humans.
Robots used in auto assembly help keep the human staff away from exposure to fumes from painting and welding as well as noise made from stamping press and weld flash. By removing humans from these dangerous and dirty working environments, these machines cut injury and accident claims.
Since automotive robots don’t get distracted or tire, they are highly repeatable thus perform tasks the same way every cycle. Additionally, they do not handle parts in a way that could harm them and neither do they drop things. This helps to greatly reduce waste that was previously caused by human error as well as reduce variability.
Since car manufacturing robots are built with vision systems which can detect variation in incoming and adapt their programmed paths to suit, in turn translating to fewer mistakes lower warranty costs and customer satisfaction.
Supply chains in car manufacturing run lean with the least inventory to buffer against production delays. Car part manufacturers aspire to maintain consistent process control as well consistent times in every part of the production line. Keep in mind that even the smallest issue can bring an assembly line to a halt.
Since you don’t have to worry about end-of -shift fatigue with automotive robots, it means that cycle times will be constant 24/7 thus making peak production consistent as well. Additionally, running car manufacturing robots through shift changeovers and breaks produce extra output from production lines unlike those that are manually attended.
When it comes to flexibility, car manufacturing robots have three advantages compared to dedicated or hard automation. Here they are:
- Reduces risk of obsolescence – This means that an automotive robot can be redeployed when a production line disappears using little or no money at all. In contrast, hard automation usually ends up being discarded.
- Handles product families – Automotive robots have the flexibility to almost instantly switch from spot welding or assembling different vehicle body parts and styles in quick succession. Another example of this is a compact machine trimming flash from a variety of plastic moldings. Thanks to advancement in robotic technology such as vision systems makes it possible for you to process a wide variety of parts.
- Less changeover time from one task to the next – For your automotive robot to be able to load a new part program, it needs to be equipped with a flexible gripper design.
With advanced technology, car manufacturing robots can be easily programmed and deployed, now more than ever.