There's a reason why the automation of production processes is an increasing trend in almost every industry. It brings immense benefits in terms of efficiency, control, and productivity for a smarter and more efficient production.
What are the main characteristics of automation?
- Increased productivity:
Automation allows for 24/7 production. Processes can be programmed and executed by machines even unattended, resulting in uninterrupted production.
- Lower operating costs:
Machines, robots, and specialized software can perform much faster and more accurately than most humans. This results in lower labor costs, more efficient use of energy, fewer human errors, and reduced material waste.
- Increased product quality:
Smart machines learn how to improve performance by collecting, analyzing, and optimizing processes for more accuracy, consistency, and superior product quality.
- Increased worker safety:
Automated machines can perform dangerous tasks and work in hazardous environments that would risk the well-being of workers.
- Improved work environment:
Machines and robots can take over tedious and repetitive activities, so workers carry out jobs that require higher and more creative skills.
- Improved planning:
Machine-learning through repetitive processes gives way to higher predictability of time and costs for any project, hence better planning and the ability to replicate successful practices.
- Better use of floor space:
Robots, machines, and automated storage systems can take advantage of vertical space, saving valuable area and making room for more productivity.
- Easy integration:
Automation systems are flexible, versatile, and built to work in sync. Machines "learn" new processes instantaneously while hardware and software quickly adapt to updates, new utilities, and applications.
- Decreased environmental footprint:
A faster, more accurate production that optimizes processes and floor space uses energy more efficiently and reduces scrap translates into a lower carbon footprint.
Why is automation crucial for high-power laser cutters?
A powerful fiber laser cutter with peak-level dynamics such as Eagle's 6G is extremely fast, requiring automated material handling solutions that keep pace with the cutting speed. Without them, it's unlikely that they will reach their full potential in terms of productivity.
Swift material exchange and supply are crucial in achieving high-volume production. Eagle's 9-second pallet changer is a key component in this process; however, automated loading/unloading and storage systems are equally important.
Eagle's CraneMaster simultaneously loads raw material and unloads cut parts. At the same time, the eTower storage systems are modular and can be equipped with varying towers and shelves, optimizing space and stock control to suit each client's specific needs.
These automated solutions are prepared for full integration with the company's ERP system and work in sync to constantly feed the machine while unloading and storing cut parts for smooth, uninterrupted work cycles.
Thanks to automated loading and unloading systems, a high-powered machine can perform at full cutting capacity, bringing about larger production volumes in shorter cycles. This has an enormous impact on overall productivity and efficiency. Not only because it reduces downtime to a minimum but because, by cutting more parts in less time, it makes more efficient use of energy, gas, and all consumables, resulting in reduced operational expenses and a lower cost per part.
If the goal is continuous production, automation systems allow the line-up of cutting programs that can keep a machine up and running unsupervised, even during night shifts or weekends.
The benefits of automation, however, do not end with material handling. Automated laser cutting machine systems have data processing, analysis, and reporting capabilities beyond what any human could achieve at such speed and accuracy.
These smart machines have built-in sensors that can collect data. The more they collect, the more intelligent they become, to the point where they can predict maintenance before an actual breakdown occurs.
Through cloud storage and reporting systems like Eagle's Myers, this data is translated into dynamic reports on critical indicators such as technician performance rates, energy/gas consumption, and program execution available anywhere in the world as long as one has an internet connection. As a result, all manufacturing stakeholders can monitor whatever is happening on the production floor for better control and speedier decision-making.
Automation enables the manufacturer to fully exploit the machine's capabilities increasing productivity, efficiency, and accuracy while reducing downtimes, operational costs, and costs per part. When high powers work together with speedy dynamics and comprehensive automated systems, they will bring unprecedented productivity.