There’s a stigma in the industry that automation is solely about reducing labor. While labor reduction is certainly the easiest to quantify when thinking about adding automation, it’s not the only money saving benefit that needs to be considered when determining ROI. Below are 5 ways Industry 4.0 tech pays for itself faster than you think.
- Efficiency Gains: With ERP systems capable of monitoring and automating scheduling, track maintenance cycles, and instantly notify personnel of issues, scheduling and maintaining up-time have never been easier. Machine utilization is one of the most important metrics for a molding company, when the machine is making good parts, it’s making the company money. Industry 4.0 technology helps decrease unplanned downtime and streamlines the changeover process so that higher capacity levels can be maintained without needing to purchase new equipment. With proper implementation of technology the that a machine at 80% capacity is a machine being fully utilized can be a thing of the past. Maintaining 90% capacity can be a realistic goal.
- Scrap Reduction: Machine monitoring capabilities have come a long way. Scrap is and always will be part of the process of injection molding. Being able to monitor variables and have them auto correct themselves instead of a process continually rejecting parts waiting for a process engineer to “put out the fire”, can have a huge impact on scrap leading to material savings. There is technology available in the industry that can automatically adjust the process when it starts to see variation which greatly reduces scrap rates. Be careful with this technology though, if certain parameters are not set properly or do not have a sufficient tolerance band set around it, the auto adjustment could create a bad part. The development process becomes even more important when using this technology.
- Better Quality: Many variables are involved to starting a production process, and as far along as technology has come, people are still needed on a production floor. A lot of things can go wrong during a set-up. The wrong blender recipe may be input, wrong temperature settings for the TCU and barrel, water lines could be clogged not allowing for proper flow, etc. With industry 4.0 technology, Poke Yoke’s can be put in place to monitor and sensor for all these things tied to specific production jobs to guarantee the parts being produced are per the approved processes and decreasing the overall cost of quality. Flow sensors can guarantee flow is occurring as it is intended. Auxiliary equipment can all be linked to the same recipe to take away human error during set-up.
- Growth Potential: In a recent Plastics Technology article two of the top growth barriers for companies were discussed; the lack of skilled labor to meet production demand and inconsistent supplier quality and delivery. Industry 4.0 technology can reduce labor and simplifies jobs so that the number of skilled employees needed to run and grow the operation is greatly reduced, and provides automatic systems that increase quality allowing you to focus on growth, without adding more people, decreasing overhead.
- It’s Not Just Expensive Robots: Industry 4.0 technology doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy expensive robots. Many equipment manufacturers offer upgrades to their existing technology to offer cheaper industry 4.0 solutions. Other companies have formed with technology specifically designed to bridge the gap between existing, older, equipment and industry 4.0 systems like sensors that can measure vibrations of pumps to aid in predictive maintenance. These types of solutions can quickly pay for themselves by avoiding costly equipment breakdowns.
When proposing industry 4.0 projects to your company it’s important to keep all benefits in mind. Not all solutions are right for every company, but with so many solutions available you need to do your homework and find out what solution is right for you.
Author: Adam Smith, President of Millennium Plastics.
Millennium Plastics is a high-volume injection molding company that specializes in tight tolerance molding. Utilizing the latest technologies and engineering expertise, Millennium Plastics provides best-in-class quality.
To learn more about the Industry 4.0 technology, big and small, Millennium Plastics uses to provide solutions to customer’s pain points, visit www.millennium-plastics.com