Article | December 28, 2021
Successful manufacturing marketing strategies are all you need to grow your business and make it visible in every way to your target customer group. Many manufacturers are now becoming vigilant towards B2B marketing and have started forming an individual marketing budget in their annual budgets.
“We should quantify marketing to inform what we do – not to decide what we do.”
– Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman, Ogily
As per Statista, nearly half of B2B organizations said they’re planning to boost their content budget in the next year.
As a result, B2B marketing for manufacturers must be redesigned and smartly strategized in order to be more effective and fruitful.
This article will focus on the significant challenges manufacturers face in B2B marketing and how manufacturers use the three most sales-driven manufacturing marketing strategies.
4 Biggest Marketing Challenges in B2B & Manufacturing
Develop Tailored Experiences
You have a few seconds to capture the customer's interest. When done correctly, personalization may help. With persistent multi-channel marketing, you may strengthen your brand in target areas. Additionally, an account-based marketing approach enables you to focus on important clients while generating customized content for them. Integrate agile methods to test novel ideas across your business without demanding extensive approval. Further, crowdsourced content, B2B communities, and advocate marketing should be prioritized.
Convert Leads into Sales
With the right strategy, you may generate more high-quality leads. Relate marketing expenditures to sales and demonstrate the impact of marketing on the bottom line. Align marketing and sales by focusing on the customer's purchasing journey. Increase the quality of your leads, transparency, and collaboration with your partners.
Measure Marketing Performance
Marketers will be asked to demonstrate ROI and forecast future actions. Proactively calculate the MROI (Marketing Return on Investment) on marketing and sales investments. Determine how to get the most out of your marketing budget by doing more with less. Focus on making data-driven judgments rather than relying on guesswork.
Maximize the Marketing Tech Investment
As a manufacturer, you have access to a number of tools and resources. You will need to collaborate with your technical team to integrate it. Collaborate with your IT team to effectively adapt, innovate, and apply technology. By integrating current technologies, you can automate and improve marketing campaigns more efficiently.
“Marketing professionals have to act as conveners and connect the dots so that there is alignment between stakeholders like sales and operation teams and executive leadership on what products and services will drive growth in any given quarter."
– Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communication, Fix Network World in conversation with Media7
3 Best B2B Marketing Strategies for Manufacturers That Drive Sales
Consider Purchasing an E-commerce Platform
Consumer behavior is driving manufacturing transformation, particularly the shift to digital channels. Manufacturers who still handle consumers solely by phone, fax, or email risk losing their loyalty as their worlds and tastes grow increasingly digital.
Manufacturers have clearly acknowledged the digital transition in 2021. This year's Manufacturing & E-Commerce Benchmark Report says 98% of manufacturers have, or plan to have, an e-commerce strategy. Moreover, 42% of manufacturers who engaged in e-commerce and digital said it strengthened client connections.
How does e-commerce benefit manufacturers?
Distributes a customized catalog to your customers
Ascertains those spare components are visible
It allows customers to customize items online
Sells your whole range online
Increases your consumer base
Focus on the User Experience and Interface (UX/UI)
The term "User Experience" refers to all elements of an end user's engagement with a business, its goods, and services. The purpose of user experience is to establish a connection between company objectives and user demands. An engaging user interface or user experience keeps users engaged and consumers pleased. Additionally, it enhances the rate of return on investment (ROI). That is why it is necessary to maintain great UI/UX quality.
How does UX/UI benefit manufacturers?
Increases the number of conversions
Support is less expensive
It helps with SEO
Brand loyalty is increased
Embrace an Omni-channel Strategy
Millennials represent 73% of those making buying decisions for companies. Part of this means offering a seamless, consistent shopping experience across a variety of channels. With the right CRM solution, you'll eliminate a lot of the legwork associated with targeting specific buyers. Manufacturers can leverage omni-channel to increase availability, promote sales and traffic, and connect digital touchpoints.
How does Omni-channel benefit manufacturers?
Supports marketers in developing trust
Enhances the user experience with the brand
It clarifies a complex subject
Developing a successful manufacturing marketing plan is all that is required to set your organization apart from the competition. Consider thinking outside of the box and developing innovative manufacturing marketing strategies that will surprise your targeted customers and keep you on their minds at all times. B2B marketing for manufacturers has long been a priority, since manufacturers frequently overlook this aspect of their business when they should. Utilize the above-mentioned sales-driven manufacturing marketing methods to assist your organization in growing and reaching the maximum range of target prospects.
What is the goal of business-to-business marketing?
B2B marketing's goal is to familiarize other businesses with your brand name and the value of your product or service in order to convert them into clients.
How can manufacturers energize their market presence?
Manufacturers may boost their market presence by advertising on various social media platforms, opting for native language ads, and partnering with influencers to promote their products or services.
Article | October 20, 2021
Additive manufacturing has advanced significantly in recent years and is currently used in nearly every area to improve both products and processes in the manufacturing business. As a result, manufacturers have been more imaginative and innovative in offering relevant products to their target customer group due to this technological advancement.
Mr. Matt Mong, a prominent business executive, also mentioned in one of his Media7 interviews,
As technology takes over and enhances many of the processes we used to handle with manual labor, we are freed up to use our minds creatively, which leads to bigger and better leaps in innovation and productivity.
Matt Mong, VP Market Innovation and Project Business Evangelist at Adeaca
The use of additive technology provides several advantages, including creating unique shapes and low production costs. In addition, the increasing application of additive manufacturing technologies is accelerating the growth of the additive manufacturing market. According to recent research conducted by Metal AM, the value of additively produced components is expected to increase by 15% annually from $12 billion in 2020 to $51 billion in 2030. Thus, additive marketing is the way forward for all industries.
This article will cover the top five industries that utilize additive manufacturing and are advancing their businesses every day by overcoming the prevailing challenges such as production errors, downtime, and skilled labor shortage with the benefits of additive manufacturing.
Five Industries Utilizing Additive Manufacturing
Though additive manufacturing or 3D printing has penetrated almost all the industries, we have picked up a few of the prevailing industries that have started using additive manufacturing and excelling in it.
Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace
Aerospace has always been the first sector to adopt new technology. Precision is critical in this sector, as a failure of any component is not an option in aerospace. In aircraft production, dimension, weight, and temperature tolerance are critical, and additive technology provides every solution around this. As a result, additive manufacturing has evolved into a critical technology that adds value throughout the supply chain for prominent aircraft firms like Airbus, GE, Boeing, and TTM.
Additive Manufacturing in Healthcare
Healthcare or medical is one of the industries that is maximizing the benefits of additive manufacturing. Technology enables the medical sector to be more innovative, accurate, and capable of offering the most excellent medical solutions available today. It enables medical practitioners to rehearse before procedures and medical researchers to study functioning human tissues for basic biological research. In addition, it is utilized to fabricate tissues and organoids, surgical instruments, patient-specific surgical models, and bespoke prostheses. Thus, additive technology has altered the face of medicine, elevating it to a more sophisticated and solution-oriented state.
Additive Manufacturing in Architecture
As with other industries, additive manufacturing reshapes the architectural and construction sectors by eliminating conventional industrial barriers such as production time and cost, material waste, and design constraints. By utilizing 3D printing, designers can now quickly construct and demonstrate how structural parts will function and appear when combined. It also assists designers in seeing how the plan will seem subsequent execution.
Additive Manufacturing in Manufacturing
Nowadays, additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a significant part of the manufacturing process. For example, rather than fabricating a product from solid blocks, additive manufacturing may build a three-dimensional model utilizing fine powder, various metals, polymers, and composite materials as raw materials for constructing a 3D model with a three-dimensional printer.
Additive Manufacturing in Education
Additive manufacturing is reshaping the educational industry by introducing a new teaching trend and transforming the classroom experience for students. It is being used in various disciplines, including engineering, architecture, medicine, graphic design, geography, history, and even chemistry. They may produce prototypes, three-dimensional models, and historical objects, among other things. Thus, technology enables learners to get more practical information about their respective courses directly on the floor.
How has General Electric (GE) been pioneering the use of Additive Manufacturing for 20 years?
GE's primary competency is additive manufacturing (3D printing), and the company has made significant investments in the technology. It utilizes additive technology to manufacture a range of components for aviation and other sectors. This article will look at one of their manufacturing case studies and how additive technology enabled them to get the desired result from the end product.
CASE STUDY: OPTISYS
Optisys modified a vast, multi-part antenna assembly into a palm-sized, lighter, one-piece additive metal antenna. The antenna's aluminum material was chosen because of its surface conductivity, low weight, corrosion resistance, and stress and vibration resistance. Optisys was able to break even on machine acquisition within one year after acquiring its first Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) equipment by utilizing additive technologies. (Source: General Electric)
Benefits and Outcomes
Non-recurring expenditures were reduced by 75%.
Weight loss of 95%
The size was reduced by 80%.
Part-to-part reduction of 100-to-1
Cycle duration shortened from 11 to 2 months
5 product lines were created for AM, a new market growth
Additive manufacturing benefits a wide variety of businesses. Industries must recognize the advantages of additive manufacturing and begin using the technology in their manufacturing processes to cut production time and costs while increasing product accuracy. This game-changing expansion of the additive manufacturing market across several industries is upgrading both products and production processes.
How do you define additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing (AM), more generally referred to as 3D printing, is a ground-breaking manufacturing technique that enables the creation of lighter, more robust components and systems. As the name implies, additive manufacturing is adding material to an item to create it.
Is additive manufacturing the same as 3D printing?
Both terms are interchangeable. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing manufacture components by connecting or adding material from a CAD file.
Which companies specialized in additive manufacturing?
American Additive Manufacturing, Forecast 3D, Sciaky, Inc., 3 Axis Development, Inc., Jonco Industries, Inc., Polyhistor International, Inc., and Caelynx, LLC are renowned companies for additive manufacturing in the United States of America.
"name": "How do you define additive manufacturing?",
"text": "Additive manufacturing (AM), more generally referred to as 3D printing, is a ground-breaking manufacturing technique that enables the creation of lighter, more robust components and systems. As the name implies, additive manufacturing is adding material to an item to create it."
"name": "Is additive manufacturing the same as 3D printing?",
"text": "Both terms are interchangeable. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing manufacture components by connecting or adding material from a CAD file."
"name": "Which companies specialized in additive manufacturing?",
"text": "American Additive Manufacturing, Forecast 3D, Sciaky, Inc., 3 Axis Development, Inc., Jonco Industries, Inc., Polyhistor International, Inc., and Caelynx, LLC are renowned companies for additive manufacturing in the United States of America."
Article | February 11, 2022
Industry 4.0 technologies, ranging from simulation to big data, have advanced significantly during the past few years. It is critical to gaining access to real-time outcomes and data that will propel the sector to new heights of lean success. Growing industry expertise and technological applications are making all cutting-edge technologies commercially available.
However, the notion of Industry 4.0 is not straightforward. It comprises a wide range of technologies and is applied across a variety of circumstances. This article will explore some of the key components of Industry 4.0 and their application scenarios. All of them are critical components for industry to work smoothly, accurately, and effortlessly. Each individual component plays a unique role in the overall efficacy of Industry 4.0 technologies.
Industry 4.0 Components
Big Data and Analytics & Use Case
Big data analytics is one of the core components of Industry 4.0. With big data analytics, businesses may identify important correlations, patterns, trends, and preferences to help them make better decisions. In Industry 4.0, big data analytics is used in smart factories to forecast when maintenance and repair procedures are required. Manufacturers benefit from increased production efficiency, real-time data analysis, predictive maintenance optimization, and production management automation.
“Data is the new science. Big data holds the answers.”
– Pat Gelsinger, CEO at VMware
The IoT and current production systems create a lot of data that must be acted upon. That's why big data organizes data and develops insights that help businesses enhance their operations.
Big Data Use Cases
Optimizing Warehouse Operations: Businesses may increase operational efficiency by identifying human mistakes, running quality checks, and displaying ideal production or assembly routes using sensors and portable devices.
Eliminating Bottlenecks: Big data helps identify variables that may slow the operation’s performance and diagnose the issue at an early stage and eliminate bottlenecks.
Predicting Demand: More accurate and relevant forecasts are made possible by visualizing activities beyond historical data through internal analysis (consumer preferences) and external analysis (trends and external events). This enables the business to predict demand, adjust and optimize its product portfolio.
Proactive Upkeep: By recognizing breakdowns in patterns, data-fed sensors indicate potential problems in the operation of machinery before they become breakdowns. The system notifies the equipment in order for it to react appropriately. These are only a few of the applications of big data analysis in manufacturing systems; there are several others, including enhanced security, load optimization, supply chain meanagemnt, and non-conformity analysis.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) & Use Case
The next component in the industry 4.0 components list is IIoT. By virtue of its unique characteristics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is creating massive changes in industrial applications. It greatly improves the operational efficiency and workflow of factories by monitoring assets and processes in real time. The IIoT presents several opportunities for entrepreneurs to improve their industry exponentially.
“The Internet of Things is the game-changer for an overall business ecosystem transformation.”
– Joerg Grafe, Senior Market Analyst, IBM
IIOT Use Cases
Predictive Maintenance: Maintenance schedules are established for machines and assets that run continually. Unplanned maintenance and failures often cost over $88 million a year. Predictive maintenance can help control these overhead costs.
Sensor and device data allows predictive analytics systems to swiftly analyze current conditions, identify danger indications, send alerts, and initiate maintenance activities. For example, a pumping station motor in an ideal IoT facility may schedule maintenance if it detects irregularities in sensor data. This method saves money on routine and frequent maintenance.
Asset Tracking: Asset tracking is designed to find and track valuable assets. Industries can track assets to improve logistics, maintain inventory, and identify inefficiencies or theft.
Real-time asset tracking is vital in manufacturing. It may be used in warehouse and inventory management to keep track of the goods. This helps in finding the lost or misplaced goods in the warehouse. Industries with scattered assets may use IoT to track, monitor, and control them.
Workplace analytics: More IIoT devices mean more workflow data for organizations. Data scientists can use analytics engines to find inefficiencies and offer improved operations. Location data analysis might also reveal warehouse inefficiencies.
Remote quality monitoring: Sensors give faster and more cost-effective information about products or processes, leading to faster and more effective actions. Industry 4.0-enabled quality monitoring systems can also be obtained from the IIoT.
Manufacturing factories can utilize IoT devices to remotely check material or product quality. It increases efficiency by allowing staff to verify many processes quickly. Similarly, real-time alarms make it easier for people to respond quickly, which lowers the risk of a failed product if left unchecked.
Because remote quality monitoring is a novel concept, there aren't any ready-made solutions or services. Developing customized IoT technology to measure certain metrics can be costly and difficult.
Cyber security & Use Case
Industrial manufacturing has one of the highest data breach costs of any sector. The Ponemon Institute's 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report estimates the average industrial breach at $5.2 million. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware assault crippled several manufacturing companies, forcing some to shut down plants for days. Overall losses were in the billions.
“Cyber-Security is much more than a matter of IT.”
― Stephane Nappo
Cyber security is vital for a safer digital zone on your factory floor or in your manufacturing business. It is one of the crucial 4.0 industry components. It's essential to be mindful of the weaknesses while modernizing manufacturing. The largest risk in an open factory environment with widely distributed partners and operations is an incident that disrupts operations. No manufacturing company, or any organization, for that matter, should pursue digital transformation without including cyber security in every step and decision.
Cyber Security Use Cases
Analyzing network traffic to detect patterns indicative of a possible attack
Detect harmful activities or insider risks
Response to incidents and forensics
Manage the risk associated with third- and fourth-party vendors
Identify data intrusions and compromised accounts
Risk management, governance, and compliance
Threat hunting is a technique for identifying signs of attack
Additive Manufacturing & Use Case
Additive manufacturing is a set of manufacturing processes that create a final product by layering material. Additive manufacturing reduces production and supply chain costs by enabling the rapid creation of large quantities of parts. It eliminates stock and the requirement for molds. Initially, 3D printing was utilized for prototyping and is still the rule. However, 3D printing technology has advanced; it is now more inventive than ever before.
“3D printing is going to be way bigger than what the 3D printing companies are saying.”
– Credit Suisse
Additive Manufacturing Use Cases
Parts for New Products: Porsche is 3D printing aluminum pistons for the Porsche 911 G2 RS engine. The improved product was made feasible using generative design software, aluminum powder, and 3D printer improvements. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has teamed up with GE Additive to print a NACA inlet. The component is made via laser powder bed fusion.
Parts for the Aftermarket: Aftermarket components are defined as non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts. Thyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen Marine Products have teamed up to offer 3D printed replacement components. With aged ships, the maritime sector frequently needs hard-to-find, costly, and time-consuming spare components. 3D printing spare parts near to the source reduces lead times and shipping costs.
Jigs, Fixtures, Molds and Tools: Jigs, fixtures, molds, and tools are essential in manufacturing. When one of these fails, a plant's downtime is prolonged. Jabil, a manufacturing services firm, has adopted 3D printing. They no longer have to wait weeks for tools or components. They can now produce tooling, fixtures, and manufacturing aids in-house in days, speeding up new product launches and increasing customer satisfaction.
Simulation and Virtualization & Use Case
Simulation in manufacturing systems is the process of using software to create computer models of production systems for the purpose of analyzing them and obtaining valuable information. According to syndicated research, it is the second-most popular management discipline among industrial managers.
“Simulation is the situation created by any system of signs when it becomes sophisticated enough, autonomous enough, to abolish its own referent and to replace it with itself.”
- Jean Baudrillard
Simulator software lets businesses try out new technologies and principles in a risk-free, virtual setting so they can make sure they're making the right investments.
Simulation Use Cases
Interoperability: The simulation showed how downstream work stations may use extra location data to more efficiently choose and organize work batches to satisfy client demand.
Information Transparency: Using sensor data, we may construct a virtual replica of the physical world, such as a manufacturing plant or contact center. This technology allows an operator to visually evaluate and certify products.
Technical Assistance: Simulating the use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to accelerate traditional production and manufacturing processes. Additionally to substitute physically hard jobs such as stock moving is becoming increasingly popular.
Due to simulation's ability to capture the process time variation, it is an effective tool for validating critical design parameters. For example, the number of AGVs to purchase, the overall benefits to throughput, maintenance planning, and track layout.
Decentralized Decisions: In a high-mix, high-volume production plant, a simulation is performed to examine the feasibility of increasing a palletizer's storage capacity in order to 'rack-up' a series of basic tasks for overnight processing while reserving more complex processes for staff hours.
The simulation lets you try out a large number of test scenarios, including worst-case scenarios in which the machine becomes stuck near the start of its overnight operation.
Industry 4.0 is a solution bundle for manufacturers to improve their manufacturing, inventory, and supply chain management. The key components mentioned above are only a few from an extensive list. There are more industry 4.0 technologies to include in the list, including digital twins, cloud, virtualization, robots, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and more. Many of these technologies are now accessible to make future forward smart factories a reality today. Know about the uses of each component and learn how to integrate it into your digital manufacturing.
What is industry 4.0 also called?
Industry 4.0 is also known as IIoT or smart manufacturing. It combines physical manufacturing and operations with smart digital technologies such as machine learning, and big data to create a more holistic and linked environment for manufacturing and supply chain businesses.
Why is Industry 4.0 needed?
Industry 4.0 technologies help you control and optimize your production and supply chain operations. It provides real-time data and insights to help you make better business decisions, eventually increasing the productivity and profitability of your company.
What are the four core components of industry 4.0?
In an attempt to define Industry 4.0 concept, German researchers developed a list of industry-defining components. They are: cyber-physical systems, IoT, Internet of Things, and smart factories.
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.