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 | May 10, 2021
Jason Spera, picture left, recently shared his vantage of the changes for factory floor automation in 2021. Jason is CEO and Co-Founder, Aegis Software. Spera is a leader in MES/MOM software platforms for discrete manufacturers with particular expertise in electronics manufacturing. Founded in 1997, today more than 2,200 factory sites worldwide use some form of Aegis software to improve productivity and quality while meeting regulatory, compliance and traceability challenges. Spera's background as a manufacturing engineer in an electronics manufacturing company and the needs he saw in that role led to the creation of the original software products and continue to inform the vision that drives Aegis solutions, like FactoryLogix. He regularly speaks on topics surrounding factory digitization, IIoT, and Industry 4.0. Contact Jason on LinkedIn.
Article | November 20, 2021
Modern manufacturing methods are pioneering and adopting manufacturing industry advancements. To remain competitive in the present era and provide the most excellent industry solutions to your organization and target customer group in 2022, you must employ new manufacturing technologies in your manufacturing processes.
Additionally, embracing current technologies is the ideal approach to tackle the industry's current challenges such as workplace safety, digitalization of operations, and a lack of skilled workers.
This article will discuss some of the leading manufacturing technologies that transform traditional manufacturing facilities into smart manufacturing factories. So, let us begin.
Manufacturing Technology & Innovations for 2022
To better understand industry 4.0, let's look at some of the manufacturing technologies that will dominate the manufacturing industry in 2022.
Numerous industries, including aerospace, healthcare, electronics, and architecture, utilize 3D printing in manufacturing. It is the most widely used technology across industries and will remain so in 2022 and in the years to come.
We may also anticipate more advancements in this technology to help overcome current barriers to 3D printing adoption, including equipment costs, material constraints, lengthier manufacturing times, a lack of knowledge, and legal issues.
Additionally, it would assist manufacturers in overcoming current manufacturing challenges such as increasing product demand, increasing automation, and locating and retaining the workforce in manufacturing plants. It is vital to incorporate 3D technology into production processes to achieve greater precision and accuracy in manufacturing.
The Internet of Things is a critical component of the industry 4.0 revolution. It has altered the environment of data collection and analysis across sectors. For example, the Internet of Things is assisting manufacturers in better understanding manufacturing and supply chain operations, forecasting product demand, and boosting customer experiences.
Implementing IoT in your manufacturing plant will also help you avoid production delays and increase the performance of your production lines. Additionally, it will decrease equipment downtime and improve process efficiency. It also enhances worker safety and enables more effective labor management.
To begin implementing IoT in your manufacturing plant, you must first examine your manufacturing processes and research how other organizations have implemented IoT in their manufacturing processes or products. This method will assist you in determining the optimal location to begin integrating the IoT in your manufacturing plants and transforming them into smart ones.
“Once you start to look at yourself in the right way and realize that projects are at the core of your business, it is easy to see how you should use technology to support your business.”
– Matt Mong, VP of Market Innovation and Project Business Evangelist at Adeaca.
GD & T
The model created in the CAD program for any product is not exactly replicated with the exact dimensions during the production procedures. Thus, manufacturers or engineers utilize GD&T (Geometric Dimension &Tolerancing) to manage and communicate the permissible variation within a product assembly to manufacturing partners and inspectors.
GD&T is a programming language that enables developers and inspectors to optimize functionality without incurring additional costs. The primary advantage of GD&T is that it expresses the design intent rather than the final geometry. However, as with a vector or formula, it is a representation of the actual item.
AR & VR
The two primary transformation aspects in the industry 4.0notion are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR technology in manufacturing enables firms to operate more efficiently by reducing production time. Additionally, it discovers and resolves manufacturing process difficulties.
Virtual reality technology benefits the industrial business in a variety of ways. It enables product designers to mimic their prototypes or models using powerful virtual reality software. This enables them to correct faults at the first stage of production and minimize production time and cost. Additionally, the technology provides additional benefits, such as increased workplace productivity and safety.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to a comprehensive end-to-end software solution that is used across sectors. It assists the manufacturing business in successfully maintaining production processes and other operational data by avoiding numerous roadblocks along the way. ERP technology enables enterprises to improve process efficiency and product quality by tackling industry-specific difficulties such as insufficient data, operation integration, inventory control, supply chain management, and on-time delivery.
Discover How John Deere Manufactured Their Tractors Using Cutting-edge Technologies
John Deere is a significant firm that embraces innovation and the Internet of Things. The company integrates Internet of Things sensors, wireless communication, and intelligent land management systems. It further integrates IoT tools into its manufacturing process, bridging the gap between technologies. Additionally, the company is a pioneer in GPS technology. Its most modern technology, which it incorporates into tractors, is accurate to within two centimeters. Additionally, the organization has implemented telemetry technology for predictive maintenance.
Manufacturing innovations are assisting manufacturers in modernizing their traditional manufacturing processes. Modern manufacturing is equipped with modern technologies that aim to improve the processes and goods, increasing the manufacturers' commercial revenues. So, to remain competitive in this age of technological innovation, manufacturers must update their manufacturing processes to remain relevant in today's manufacturing world.
What is manufacturing innovation?
Manufacturing innovation includes new technology, supply chain modifications, and product and process improvements. As a result, businesses can benefit significantly from innovation and typically surpass their competitors.
Which technologies are considered to be a component of advanced manufacturing?
3–D printing, robotics, IoT, nanotechnology, cloud computing, robotics, and big data are the significant components of advanced manufacturing.
How are cutting-edge technologies assisting the manufacturing sector?
The cutting-edge technology can precisely estimate demand to set production objectives, analyze machine data to predict when parts will break before a human operator can detect, and more.
"name": "What is manufacturing innovation?",
"text": "Manufacturing innovation includes new technology, supply chain modifications, and product and process improvements. As a result, businesses can benefit significantly from innovation and typically surpass their competitors."
"name": "Which technologies are considered to be a component of advanced manufacturing?",
"text": "3–D printing, robotics, IoT, nanotechnology, cloud computing, robotics, and big data are the significant components of advanced manufacturing."
"name": "How are cutting-edge technologies assisting the manufacturing sector?",
"text": "The cutting-edge technology can precisely estimate demand to set production objectives, analyze machine data to predict when parts will break before a human operator can detect, and more."
Article | April 6, 2021
Inbound marketing has become a vital part of the manufacturing industry, especially after the pandemic. Marketers want to get more business, more high-quality leads, increase revenue, and expand it into new markets. A lot of opportunities are arising for manufacturers to embrace its effectiveness—especially online.
Unlike other industries, the manufacturing industry is not safe from the continual pendulum swing of updates, new platform creation, and changing buyer preferences. Manufacturing marketing has its own blend of deliverables and initiatives that can spell the success of your business.
Until now, you must have realized that your traditional marketing tactics are obsolete and would have planned to get the inbound marketing program off the ground.
Here comes the critical part—understanding how to implement inbound marketing for your business to generate high revenue. With the help of these five steps, you can stay ahead of your competition.
Before you approach the steps, first you need to:
Identify your Customers’ Pain Points
Understanding what frustrates your buyers gives an insight into how to answer the queries they look for. To determine what queries your buyers may have, you can:
Interview your customers: Your customers are your leading source of information. Ask them what solutions they are searching for. What content did they read to solve their solutions? What information, insights, FAQs, or product details can help them? This way, create content that answers all of these questions.
Talk to your sales representative: Your sales team is on the front line with your buyers/customers. They very well know what content gaps can be filled. Identify the gaps and work accordingly.
These considerations will help you to stay updated in the competitive landscape of manufacturing marketing.
Now, start your inbound marketing program by following these steps.
When planning inbound marketing, your website becomes the center of the universe. It’s where all your marketing efforts, like great content for your prospective buyers come in. After all, this is how you’re going to start ranking on search engines and driving in leads.
Before you get to this part, you’ll need to do a basic audit to ensure your website is in tandem with your targeted audiences’ expectations.
The website interface is the focal point that helps buyers to interact. This will help them to interact with your business. And if their experience is negative, they’ll probably never bother to read further. To avoid such circumstances, here are a few critical web design tips you should know and implement:
A Clean Look
Keep your website simple and embrace spaces to make it more appealing to the eyes. Too many visuals and color combinations will make it hard to find the information they’re searching for. Creating a simple yet appealing website neither costs your pockets nor makes it hard for your audiences to contact you.
Tablets and smartphones have overtaken desktop computers. So, creating a mobile-friendly design will ensure your website looks impressive on any screen size. Your audience does not feel lost, and it helps to scroll information from your website.
Move from HTTP to HTTPS
With massive data breaches becoming common in the internet world, your audience will be more concerned with security and privacy than ever. Converting your website from HTTP to HTTPS will protect their information. Also, it will help you get ranked on the Google search engine.
Create Informative Content
Content is the backbone of inbound marketing efforts. It’s how you can build a strong audience base for your business and convert them into leads.
To market your business effectively, you need to provide informative yet relevant content at every stage. Think of creating a blog to inform rather than a sales tool. With this notion, your content will rank and stay on top of the mind throughout your customers’ buyer journey. This means your industry-related content has to be interesting and attract visitors to become your leads.
To understand how your content needs to work, list these funnels of content ideas and try implementing them.
Content Ideas: Top Funnel
Include content in these ways:
Social media posts
Videos on factory products tour
Content Ideas: Middle Funnel
While the top of the content funnel is the widest, the middle of the funnel is often the deepest. It includes content type such as:
‘How to’ guides
Content Ideas: Bottom Funnel
The bottom funnel creates chances to close the deal and convert visitors/buyers into leads. This includes content ideas such as:
Call to action
So, in the marketing competition landscape, many manufacturers are busy updating their inbound marketing strategies like you. Many others have overhauled their business. While you have a lot on your end, inspire yourself to create that excellent piece of content now!
Invest in Marketing Technologies and Automation
One way to grow your business through inbound marketing is automating your marketing efforts. This way, you can devote more time focusing on the bigger picture. There are tons of tools online to help organize strategies, create content, schedule emails, campaigns and publish to your website. Use them!
Marketing technology usage can help your business to operate faster and more accurately. Here are some automation tools to use:
G Suite: Google’s products are becoming just ubiquitous with a bonus—everything is in the cloud today. You can find your work easily and access it from any device. Also, manage all marketing efforts from one place and collaborate globally in no time with clients.
Sales and Marketing CRM: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, like HubSpot CRM, gives you a quick view of your marketing funnel and sales channel. Not only does it enable transparency all across, but it gives you hours back in the day by starting different events and marketing flows automatically.
Email Marketing: Emails are the most effective marketing channels in terms of ROI. Email usage endures growing around 4% year-over-year. And has no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In this case, many emailing tools are available. Like HubSpot is well known for its CRM and inbound marketing software. It boasts exceptional deliverability for emails. With about 2,000 email sends/month, contact lists, a drag-and-drop email builder, and ready-made templates, you can start right away.
These are some examples to decide what's best for your industrial inbound marketing efforts. Get started today!
Keep Tracking your Marketing Efforts
You’re spending your time, energy, efforts, and resources on marketing to grow your business. So, it’s essential to track your marketing initiatives and see if it’s functioning as expected or not.
Here are some crucial aspects with which you can keep track of your marketing program:
Get an ROI measuring tool:For measurable goals, you’ll want to select KPIs to measure ROI. Some common ones include the cost per sale, per lead, overall marketing program, and overall customer relationship length. You can also set points for channel performance with campaign-specific KPIs, including email open rate or social media impressions.
Google Analytics:This is a free tool. It will help monitor your website's health by tracking site metrics such as page views, visits, and clicks. With this, you can easily set up customized reports to monitor specific metrics of interest for your campaigns.
Lastly, get a lead generation tool that tracks who is in-market for your services. How they’re interacting with your online presence and where they are in their solution journey.
Inbound Marketing Case Study: Get Inspired!
If you ask your competitors what their main goals are for their company, the answer would most likely be related to increasing sales and leads. Even if they mentioned other purposes, such as improving website performance and SEO or redesigning a website, the main objective would be to get more traffic. And it will lead to more sales.
For Corrugated Metals, Inc., these were the goals. This manufacturing company deals in roll formation. It manufactures products for the equipment, construction, transportation, and defense industries.
The company used inbound marketing strategies during the pandemic and found success with it, resulting in:
Increased quality leads
Increased sales revenue
More opportunities from the manufacturing industry for long term sales potential
Redesigned their website to bring design and UX (user experience) up to date and increase engagement
Maintained and increased SEO
Through the implementation of inbound marketing, the company saw a 198% hike in website traffic and an implausible 285% increase in leads. But that wasn’t all. The quality of leads radically improved by 321%.
Since they were able to identify and target long-term sales prospects through persona-based targeting and lead nurturing, they lined up a potential million dollar per year customer. This created a possibility of 20 years of recurring sales.
In a nutshell, using these inbound marketing tactics can bring high revenues to your business.
1) PLAN! Do as much research as you can. Know your industrial customers. Find what’s trending. Analyze what worked, what didn't work, and why. And start with these ways to boost marketing for your business.
2) CREATE! Use the information as the backbone to create a stellar inbound marketing plan. Be patient, and do one project at a time.
3) OPTIMIZE! There are ways to improve. And if you’re testing correctly — no industrial marketing strategy will ever fail.
In a recent 2020 Thomas Industrial Survey, there has been a 12% surge in website usage by manufacturers using inbound marketing campaigns to connect with more buyers and customers since the outbreak of COVID-19. Therefore, adjusting your manufacturing inbound marketing strategies today will perhaps help you win more business down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
What manufacturers should follow to do inbound marketing?
Manufacturers implementing inbound marketing should follow some crucial aspects before they start. These attract customers—don’t interrupt them, measure all activities, nurture leads, do SEO and social media activities precisely.
What are the four stages manufacturing marketers should know about inbound marketing?
There are a lot of relatable things to do inbound marketing. But along the top four things, manufacturers must know to drive business growth are attract, convert, sell and create leads.
Does inbound marketing for manufacturing works?
Absolutely. Inbound marketing for manufacturers has been fruitful. If you are willing to include it in your business, you will reap its benefits and see your business growing with time. Creating a proper strategy is foremost.
"name": "WHAT MANUFACTURERS SHOULD FOLLOW TO DO INBOUND MARKETING?",
"text": "Manufacturers implementing inbound marketing should follow some crucial aspects before they start. These attract customers—don’t interrupt them, measure all activities, nurture leads, do SEO and social media activities precisely."
"name": "WHAT ARE THE FOUR STAGES MANUFACTURING MARKETERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INBOUND MARKETING?",
"text": "There are a lot of relatable things to do inbound marketing. But along the top four things, manufacturers must know to drive business growth are attract, convert, sell and create leads."
"name": "DOES INBOUND MARKETING FOR MANUFACTURING WORKS?",
"text": "Absolutely. Inbound marketing for manufacturers has been fruitful. If you are willing to include it in your business, you will reap its benefits and see your business growing with time. Creating a proper strategy is foremost."