Article | March 30, 2021
The past 12 months have been especially challenging for the manufacturing industry. The pandemic affected in-person manufacturing jobs as well as supply and demand, causing many manufacturing companies to shut their doors or lay off valuable employees. Recognizing the vulnerable state of manufacturing companies, cybercriminals saw manufacturing as an easy target. In fact, the manufacturing industry saw an 11 percent increase in cyberattacks in 2020.
And even more concerning, our recent State of Software Security v11 (SOSS) report found that, when compared to other industries, the manufacturing industry ranks last for fix-rate and median time to remediate security flaws. That means that the manufacturing industry has security flaws in applications that aren???t getting resolved in a timely manner. And more lingering flaws mean more opportunity for a cyberattack.
Article | December 10, 2021
A new form of robot is entering manufacturing plants all around the globe. Instead of being locked away in their own work cell, collaborative robots work side by side with their human counterparts. Together, they form the manufacturing crew of the future.
Collaborative robots, or cobots, are more flexible, easy to use, and safer than industrial robots. Instead of ending up abandoned in a corner, they are proving to be serious expansions of production capacity leading to better ways of creating superior quality products.
1.1 A New Breed of Bot
Cobots are a new type of automation product with their own ISO standards for safety and usability. For a robot to qualify as a cobot, it has to be used for tasks of a collaborative nature while sharing all or part of its reach space with human operators. So it is not the product alone that classifies it as a cobot.
Industrial robots must be expertly programmed for one specific job along the production line. This requires hard line coding and endless tweaking and testing, which together with other factors make for a sizable upfront investment. Not so with collaborative robots.
Cobots may look similar to traditional robots in some ways, but they are much easier to install and program. This foregoes the need to cooperate with a robotic integration service. Their lightweight and friendly form factor lets manufacturers conveniently relocate them on the shopfloor from one project to another.
This renders the robotics technology perfect for a data-driven, Industry 4.0 work environment. Cobots can side with traditional machinery and additive manufacturing equipment, aided by artificial intelligence and cloud connectivity while embedded in a networked environment rich with smart sensors and mixed reality interfaces.
1.2 A Unique Blend of Benefits
Because it is fairly straightforward to reprogram a cobot to various tasks, they are perfect for high-mix, low-volume work to meet the rising demand for ultra-customized products.
They can also do multiple tasks in unison, such as alternatingly loading a machine and finishing parts from the previous cycle. Here are some other advantages in addition to flexibility:
• Low investment. Cobots typically cost a fraction of the price of an industrial robot, but they offer much lower payload and reach. ROI is typically one to two years.
• Safety. With rounded surfaces, force-limited joints, and advanced vision systems, cobots are exceptionally safe. This reduces the risk of injury due to impact, crushing, and pinching. Driverless transport systems are wheeled mobile robots that immediately halt when their lasers detect the presence of a nearby human being.
• Accuracy. Cobots score well on accuracy with 0.1mm precision or well below that. While they do typically sacrifice speed, dual-mode cobots can be converted to fully-fledged tools of mass production that run at full speed in their own safeguarded space.
• Easy to program. Many brands offer user-friendly programming interfaces from beginner to expert level. This reduces the need for continuous availability of expensive and scarce expertise while giving current employees an incentive to upskill. And because they can be deployed within hours, cobots can be leased for temporary projects.
• Research. Small processing plants, agile start-ups, and schools can invest in cobots to experiment with ways to automate processes before committing to full automation.
1.3 Cobot Activity Repertoire
Cobots are perfect candidates for taking over strenuous, dirty, difficult, or dull jobs previously handled by human workers. This relieves their human co-workers from risk of repetitive strain injury, muscle fatigue, and back problems. They can also increase job satisfaction and ultimately a better retirement.
The cobot’s program of responsibilities includes:
• Production tasks such as lathing, wire EDM, and sheet stamping.
• Welding, brazing, and soldering.
• Precision mounting of components and fasteners, and applying adhesive in various stages of general assembly.
• Part post-finishing such as hole drilling, deburring, edge trimming, deflashing, sanding, and polishing.
• Loading and unloading traditional equipment such as CNC and injection molding machines, and operating it using a control panel to drastically reduce cycle times.
• Post-inspection such as damage detection, electronic circuit board testing, and checking for circularity or planarity tolerances.
• Box-packing, wrapping, and palletizing.
• Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) assist with internal transport and inventory management.
1.4 No-Code Programming
While an industrial robot requires the attention of a high-paid robotics engineer, anyone with basic programming savviness can install and maintain a collaborative unit.
Brands are releasing more and more kits for quick installation and specific use cases. Instead of being all numbers and line-coding, current user interaction is exceptionally people-focused.
At the lowest skill level, lead-through programming lets operators physically guide the cobot’s end-of-arm-tool (EOAT) through the desired motion path, after which it will flawlessly replicate the instructed behaviour.
It is also possible to enter desired waypoints as coordinates. At the highest level, it is of course still possible to have full scripting control.
An intermediate step is visual programming interfaces. These let users create blocks of functionality that they can string together into more advanced action sequences, while entering the appropriate parameters for each function such as gripping strength, screwing tightness, or pressing force.
These UIs come in the form of in-browser or mobile apps.
Based on a 3D-CAD model of the machine and its industrial environment, a digital twin of the cobot can simulate and optimize its operations, for example to prevent collisions.
It also lets operators remotely monitor and adjust the machine while it’s running. All the while, back-end artificial intelligence can do its analyses to find further efficiency improvements.
3D models of the to-be-manufactured product can be imported for edge extraction of complex surfaces. These will then be converted into the cobot’s desired movement trajectories instead of tedious manual programming.
This makes them feasible to implement for highly dexterous tasks like welding curved hydroformed metal parts or sanding and polishing the most intricate of 3D printed geometries.
Interfacing directly with the robot is becoming increasingly human-centered as well. Future cobots will respond to voice interaction as well as touch input, eradicating the screens-and-buttons paradigm of current devices.
Some brands are giving the cobot a face with emotional expressions, hoping to lower the barrier to adoption. The upcoming generation of cobots can even respond to body language, as well as show its intentions by projecting light to where they are about to reach or move next.
1.5 A Human World
Ultimately, the objective of any company is to create value for people. It is not an option to completely remove humans from the shop floor in an attempt to stay at the forefront of innovation.
Attempting to leap to full automation and the utopian “lights-out factory” does not work anyway, as automotive giants such as Ford, Chrysler, GM, and Tesla can testify. A significant portion of human employees will indeed need to give up their roles. On the other hand, improved productivity levels open up space to retain personnel and uplift them to more creative, managerial, analytical, social, or overall more enjoyable jobs.
For certain tasks, humans still need to be kept inside the manufacturing loop. For example:
• Complex assembly routines and handling of flexible components.
• Large vehicle subassemblies contain many variable components and require more hand-eye coordination than one cobot can handle. Humans are needed to make sure everything lands in the right position while the cobot provides assistive muscle power.
• Fashion, footwear, jewellery, art pieces, and other products where creation borders on artistry rather than mechanical assembly require the aesthetic eye of humans. People are also needed to spot aesthetic deficiencies in custom one-offs in order to correspond with customers before finishing the production batch.
• While intelligent automation software can spot bottlenecks in efficiency, humans are required for creative problem solving and context-awareness to make decisions. A spirit of flexibility and innovation is just as important as the accuracy of perfect repetitions.
1.6 Mission: Install a Cobot
Cobots have numerous advantages over industrial solutions or people-only workspaces. They enable faster, more precise, and more sophisticated operations while reducing downtime and maintaining employee satisfaction.
Low-voltage operation and reduced material waste fits with sustainable innovation and corporate social responsibility programs.
Many companies are reporting surges in production capacity and staff generally experience the presence of cobots as favorable. For example, industry leviathans like BMW and Mercedes-Benz are reaching the conclusion that in many parts of the production process implementing a cobot has been the right decision.
Connecting all parts of the production line with full automation solutions is a pipedream. It works only when all steps are perfectly attuned, and in reality this never happens and one misstep can be catastrophic.
Whether to hire a human, a robot, or a co-robot is a complex and ever-more pressing decision. Statistical process control is paramount for large organizations to make unbiased data-driven decisions.
Determine the key performance indicators, then find the most critical bottlenecks and major opportunities for leaps in production efficiency, product quality, or staff unburdening.
Talk to employees for their insights and probe their level of skill and enthusiasm needed for working with their new artificial assistants. Digital transformation should be an exciting shift in the organization and its people, so apply new technological advancements only where it makes sense.
Despite common beliefs about robotization, the cobot is an entirely separate product category that can be a surprisingly plug-and-play solution for simple tasks, with programming apps becoming increasingly intuitive.
A cobot’s flexibility makes it perfect to run early experiments to help companies find its best spot on the factory floor. Its unbelievable precision, consistency, and level of control generally can make a strong first impression on customers.
Not only can cobots increase production capacity while reducing idle time and cycle time to accelerate manufacturing across many vertical markets, but they also enrich the work environment resulting in happier and more involved employees.
For many companies, a cobot can be the next logical step in their digital transformation.
Article | July 13, 2021
The start of the new year is a great time to critically take a look at your processes and see how you can improve. Here at FANUC, we have identified four key strategies manufacturers can use to boost their efficiency!
Automation can increase production and efficiency no matter the type or complexity of the manufactured products. With space at a premium in most production facilities, many job shops look for machine tending robots that are easy to integrate and have a small footprint. FANUC's robots and software make it easy to connect the equipment and improve throughput as well as overall equipment effectiveness. Quick and Simple Startup of Robotization (QSSR) allows up to four machine tools to be connected with a robot using just one Ethernet cable.
Use the Latest and Greatest Machining Practices and Technology
Many manufacturers leave performance on the table due to outdated processes and programming. Are you getting the most out of your machining? Now’s the time to look at the advantages in new CNC technology. Because new controls have greater processing speed and can implement advanced algorithms, they can do a lot more for your operations. Moreover, the interfaces have become simpler and more intuitive, so they are easier to use than ever before.
Digitize Your Process
New digital tools are breathing innovation and life into increasingly more areas of manufacturing, including the application of digital twins in the machining industry. Digital twins provide virtualization of the machine, control and manufacturing process. Digitalizing traditional manufacturing processes have the potential to make operations more efficient by proving out production processes in the virtual world. That means less waste, more efficiency and a more equipped workforce.
Upgrade Your Shop with a CNC Retrofit
Do you have legacy equipment? Running older machinery can have hidden costs, such as taking the time to source and find older replacement controls leading to significantly longer total downtime and production losses. However, scrapping old equipment and starting new, might be too expensive, especially when factoring in tooling, fixturing, rigging and foundation. Plus, new machines may require more training for staff. A CNC retrofit, with new FANUC CNCs, industrial PCs, servos and cabling, can speed up processing and reduce cycle time by as much as 50 percent.
Article | September 22, 2021
Marketing for manufacturing companies hasn't always been easy. Because of the rising volatility in the economy, trade shows and face-to-face sales meetings have changed their manufacturing purchasing patterns.
On the other hand, buyers are seeking for more convincing market reasons to buy your product. This means your manufacturing marketing strategy needs to evolve to answer each of these questions from the buyer angle in order to convince them in choosing your products over other competitor products.
Manufacturers must do more than simply focus on product awareness to attract new buyers. Instead, they must concentrate on the content and intent of promotional activities that will reach target buyers through manufacturing advertising. The promotional message has always been the critical factor to be delivered at the right time and place.
To hit the rock at the right spot, you must first understand the buyer's expectations in the manufacturing industry. So, let's get started.
Buyers' Expectations from the Manufacturer
Faster production cycles, higher-quality components and products, and affordable pricing are all expectations among manufacturing buyers. Therefore, marketing professionals in the manufacturing domain must consider these factors while developing a digital marketing strategy to outwit other competitors in the industry.
What Is the Importance of Digital Marketing for Industrial Products?
Going digital is the necessity of time. For example, almost 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research before making a purchase. Similarly, after using the correct digital marketing techniques for their industrial products, 82 percent of manufacturing enterprises increased their yearly sales within a year.
This one-on-one discussion with one of the manufacturing industry's top leaders will give you a better understanding of manufacturing marketing's relevance.
Marketing is VERY important to any company, although I generally see it being justified by the number of web hits or ‘leads’ that come in. - John Hayes, Director of Sales at BALYO
So, small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) must recognize that utilizing digital platforms is the most significant way of marketing for manufacturing companies.Effective digital marketing campaigns demand sound investment and planning.
Hence, to stand out in this digital game, SMMs must review their digital marketing strategies to improve website traffic and conviction in their product on multiple digital platforms.
To do so, look at the five checklists points at the top of the digital marketing trends for manufacturers.
Five Priorities for Your Digital Manufacturing Marketing Plan
Leading manufacturers are all getting good ROI for their industry digital marketing strategy. Let’s check out how are they doing it?
Recognize the Buyer's Persona
In the context of the increasing instability of the industrial ecosystem, manufacturers must better understand their target groups to develop product marketing strategies tailored to their needs.
The potential buyer's digital activities also help understand the target buyer's persona through their digital activities on various digital platforms. For example, some customers prefer textual content to learn about a product, while others prefer to watch a video that explains everything in detail.
So, as per the target buyer's demand, manufacturers can modify their product marketing content. It will also help you create an effective digital marketing strategy for your manufacturing company.
Interact Effectively with Important Constituents
To be visible in the eyes of your buyer, you must communicate with them frequently and effectively. In every industry, technology has altered the meaning of buyer communication. So, here are some of the most popular ways that all industry leaders are using to exchange information with their potential buyers. This strategy will also help you establish a positive rapport with potential buyers and stay in touch with them.
Start a Newsletter: Prepare some research and conversion phase content, solution-oriented blogs, interviews, or success stories, as applicable for your company's profile. In this strategy, you must always be consistent and distinct.
Create an Email Campaign: Use emails to build a more personal connection with your potential buyers. Create a buyer persona based on the interests of your target audience and segment them properly when crafting your emails. This practice will help your recipients feel recognized and involved.
Use Social Media Networks to Your Advantage: Each of your buyer personas uses social media as a primary source of information. Use this platform to your advantage by developing specific techniques for staying top-of-mind among your target audience.
Make the Website Content Appealing to Potential Buyers
Manufacturing digital marketing content serves as a thread to draw your target buyers to your website. When the target buyer visits your website, the website content will play a critical role. As a result, every manufacturing company must have the concise, engaging, and appealing website content. Make sure that your website contains everything you require to connect with your target buyer persona.
So, how do you know if your website's content is on track? Check out the list below for some key points that should be available on your website to make visitors feel valuable about your company.
Key-informative content: This type of content should assist buyers in expanding their existing knowledge of your company, product, or services. It must include your brand’s story, services, product catalogs and brochures, FAQs, and solution-focused blogs.
Trust-building content: This type of content encourages anxious buyers to trust your product or service, which may be entirely new for them. It includes previous buyer product reviews, client references, testimonials, buyer success stories, expert opinions, and business awards if any.
User-friendly content: This is the most Crucial aspect of your website's content. As covered in the buyer persona section, buyers have diverse interests in consuming information. Some prefer to read text, some prefer to watch videos, and others prefer to consume information through CAD drawings, diagrams, or infographics. As a result, ensure that your website contains various forms of content so that each visitor is comfortable consuming what you are serving them about your product.
SEO-optimized content: Ensure that your website contains your target buyers' keywords when searching for products. Creating SEO-friendly website content allows you to rank higher in Google searches and makes it easier for readers to find you.
Use Marketing Automation Platform
Because of the growing use of marketing automation tools, even the smallest manufacturers can now benefit from them. They're the easiest and most cost-effective way to gauge the success of your digital marketing efforts. So what benefits have you reaped from using the marketing automation software?
Helps you keep track of your prospects' locations
Assists you in obtaining the lead score, which tells you who your best leads are and where they originate
Keep track of the conversions throughout the buying cycle with this tool
As a result, the marketing automation technology helps you evaluate the return on your investment in numerous ways.
Do a Competitor Analysis
Analyzing your competitor's marketing strategies will help you develop sound business tactics for your next move. Competitor analysis aids you in understanding the market's demands and new prospects that you may have ignored previously. This strategic approach also aids in your understanding of where you stand in the market and what you need to come up with to stay ahead of competitors.
Every buyer's attention isn't only focused on making a purchase. They also want a simple and pleasing purchase experience. Providing a delightful buying experience encourages customers to return to you for future purchases of the same or different products you have introduced. As a result, each of the checklists above plays a vital role in your potential customer's buying process and contributes to organic buyer growth.
What is digital manufacturing?
Digital manufacturing is the simultaneous creation of product and manufacturing process descriptions using an integrated computer-based system that involves simulation, 3D visualizations, analytics, and collaborative tools.
How can manufacturers market their products?
Promote your product by using various content types, including blogs, press releases, infographics, and videos. Consider event sponsorships as a way to reach a particular demographic with your brand's message. Distribute complimentary product samples to potential customers to secure bulk purchases.
What is the most effective way to market a manufacturing firm?
For your target groups, write and publish richer, solution-oriented content. To make your company more known to the general public, take virtual tours of your facility and create product videos to give people a better understanding of your product and company.
"name": "What is digital manufacturing?",
"text": "Digital manufacturing is the simultaneous creation of product and manufacturing process descriptions using an integrated computer-based system that involves simulation, 3D visualizations, analytics, and collaborative tools."
"name": "How can manufacturers market their products?",
"text": "Promote your product by using various content types, including blogs, press releases, infographics, and videos. Consider event sponsorships as a way to reach a particular demographic with your brand's message. Distribute complimentary product samples to potential customers to secure bulk purchases."
"name": "What is the most effective way to market a manufacturing firm?",
"text": "For your target groups, write and publish richer, solution-oriented content. To make your company more known to the general public, take virtual tours of your facility and create product videos to give people a better understanding of your product and company."