Semi-Automated or Fully Automated: What System is Right for You?

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August 2021

Semi-Automated or Fully Automated: What System is Right for You?

When deciding on an automated system for your manufacturing process, it can be difficult to choose between semi-automatic and fully automatic. SP Automation & Robotics are often approached by customers who have been told by senior management that they need to automate. However, full automation is not always the right choice for their manufacturing process. It is vital to fully understand the end goals and how the costs of automating this can be justified in line with improving the production process. Below are some things to ask yourself when deciding which automation system would be right for you.

 

What is the difference between semi-automated and fully automated?

Semi-automatic systems are the broadest part of the assembly system range. These can include the smallest help from an operator, such as manually loading and/or unloading the entire system. Or it can have a great deal of labour, such as having manual checks at every station. The key for this assembly type is that it includes both manual functions as well as machine-aided assembly.

SP Automation & Robotics see fully automatic systems as solutions that require no human interaction. This means the product is loaded into feed systems or can be transferred from another system that will automatically load into the next step of the assembly process. The automated system then completes the entire assembly including testing, inspection and unloading. If there is human interaction, it can be as simple as responding to system prompts.

 

fill and finish

 

How do you know which one is right for your manufacturing process?

When choosing an assembly system your budget and volumes largely dictate which type will work best for you. We recommend our customers complete a return on investment calculation first to determine the balance between cost and features for them and their system. This will lead them towards a solution that meets their budgetary needs over the life of the machine as well as their manufacturing goals for the product.

When it comes to choosing the right level of automation, it’s important to understand the nature of what you are machining as well as your specific requirements and capabilities. While fully automated systems can provide a cost-effective option for industrial manufacturers, the reality is that a semi-automated solution may be better suited to meet your production goals.

 

Semi-Automated Systems

Semi-automated systems are useful for companies that need to improve their manufacturing process but aren’t able to completely remove the operator assistance. The products used in these systems can benefit from some automation, but some aspects of the assembly are too difficult to fully automate reliably. This can be because the incoming parts can’t be economically fed, or the volumes don’t justify a fully automatic system. Many companies go with this option to realise the significant process improvements while retaining the adaptability of an operator’s input.

Semi-automated machines and systems can be ideal for industrial applications that require an improvement in manufacturing processes but are not able to completely remove operator assistance. At SP Automation & Robotics we conduct an overall project assessment to determine which operations in a semi-automatic application will be performed by the machine or by a machine operator.

 

We conduct risk assessments to ensure our semi-automated systems are composed of an ergonomic machine layout and custom machine safety control mechanisms that allow operators to work alongside the automated machine in the most comfortable and safe way. Our safety systems include using light curtains, physical guarding, collaborative robots, and smart technology.

 

Full Automated Systems

Fully automated systems are often used for companies that are looking to increase the production of a product that lends itself to automatic feeding and assembly and whose volumes require throughput increases. These companies typically already operate automated equipment in their facilities, and they are looking to keep long-term costs low by not hiring more laborers. Many companies will suggest that manual assembly is less expensive than automated assembly. However, when you consider the longer-term payback on your machinery, automation could be more economical for your company.

 

SP Automation and Robotics can work with you to help decide which type of automation is the most valuable to your organisation. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

 

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