Automation can be defined as the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance. Industrial automation deals primarily with the automation of manufacturing, quality control and material handling processes.
The main hurdle is developing a solution with material handling and nailing with low quality wood that meets the quality, serviceability, and industry uptime standards. People are looking at robotics to solve problems associated with cost, productivity, quality, safety and staffing. The best way to get started with robotics is to start with a module approach. Robots can be repurposed later in life. Look for flexibility and adaptability.
Keep up with automation trends through investing in products or people that provide automation services, through peripherals and other market studies and review your current processes for automation. Get data and perform time studies. It’s important to bring in your key vendors and have holistic conversations about current and future goals to ensure you design with the end goal in mind. Bring key vendors together to develop solutions and have all machines communicating and sharing information.
We are in a new stage of increased awareness and use of automation in the United States. The industry has seen automation in material handling, data accumulation, equipment and other areas. Robots are relatively new to the U.S. industry. Demographics, geography, warehouse space, logistics and economic (access to cheap labor) factors play a role in the timing of automation.
For NWPCA’s role, I suggest reporting on new automation in white papers, in the magazine, online, etc. NWPCA can advance the discussion with members by bringing in experts and host automation forums during industry shows.