Day: February 11, 2020

Industry Insight | Automation and Abbey – Preparing Smart Factories of the Future

Once upon a time, there was an intimate fascination towards what the future may look like; how we would transport ourselves, physically appear, if we would even need to work for a living anymore, or if robotic clones would conveniently take over.

In all fairness, Robots have arrived, they can clean up our carpets and cut our grass (both, very questionably may I add) and in far more advanced settings, even dance with surprising sass and play chess with constant, learning intelligence.

Globally, we are accelerating towards achieving a level of intelligence and connectivity which was once only a distant pipe dream. However, a report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) in September of 2019 brought to light a reluctance towards adoption of automation in the UK.

As the UK lags behind G7 counterparts in terms of robot density, an opinion piece from Zenoot went on to highlight just how “Britain will struggle to keep pace with the productivity of international competitors if action is not taken.” The article raises some key questions and problems in equal measures as it recognises that “if UK manufacturing is to realise its potential, it must overcome its apparent reluctance to automate.”

This reluctance towards adoption from the birthplace of the industrial revolution is bewildering when we consider that the British industry even today, holds riches in technology and research. This in turn forms a solid foundation upon which to build an automated society and thus support economic growth and prosperity. To achieve all this however, the British market “must work together to move industry forward.”

Challenges

Overcoming misconceptions around the cost of uptake and integration is recognised as being one of the biggest barriers towards automation acceptance in the UK. Whereas the truth of the matter is that automation is not out of reach of many British manufacturers as is perhaps assumed, in fact; “the economic gains of introducing robots into a production line more than offsets any upfront costs.”

“In addition to the subject of expense, there is also a general lack of awareness over the numerous applications that automation can be used for.” There are several businesses within the automotive and aerospace industries for example which could enjoy significant economic growth by adopting automation.

A white paper article from European Tool and Mould Making Magazine titled ‘Smart Factory’ further supports this. The paper highlights that the central feature of an Industry 4.0 optimised smart factory of the future, will be its “ability to adapt to emergent technologies and production demands,” this adaptation to evolving production requirements can of course, only happen once an adoption of new technology takes place.

As the machines of the future are self-controlling and thus, self-learning, they are in turn also self-optimising. The machinery can exchange data with each other as required to be able to effectively communicate with each other. This helps to minimise human error and improve efficiencies, a particularly important feature for those firms who operate with sensitivity towards critical accuracy.

The role of humans, another key concern in operations, will adapt to one of monitoring and servicing, increasing the requirement for fluency in technological literacy.

Whereas adapting attitudes and barriers to acceptance is part of the battle acknowledged through education, there is also the case of buildings being outdated and not fit for today’s technological purpose, this investment in building upgrades and mechanic infrastructure is expensive in an economy tainted by Brexit uncertainty.

Published by The Independent in December 2019, the article addresses how manufacturers “ended the year at a ‘standstill’ over Brexit uncertainty.” This of course was also influenced by an ongoing downturn in major global markets, however in a survey of more than 330 companies, stakeholders indicated investment would only increase once the true “direction of travel” over Brexit becomes clear.

Resolutions

In order to optimise chances of smart factory adoption and integration, the end to end management of implementation and subsequent servicing is key. Cautious Brexit Britain unknowingly has solutions available however to help implement machinery of the future whilst minimising risk, and potential headaches in adoption.

At Abbey, we can manage full end to end implementation and management of systems, beginning with a thorough on site assessment, leading to adoption and finally on-going service and maintenance services to optimise your assets usability and effectiveness.

The manufacture trained specialist team at Abbey Industrial Solutions can service and repair tools to original manufacturer status, and as a leading independent provider of Industry 4.0 compatible, smart tooling solutions including power tools, accessories and consumables through to the provision of comprehensive maintenance service and repair facilities; Abbey pledge to deliver the right tool for our clients based on manufacturer merit, at the right price, alongside a complete product service plan.

As a prominent power tools and maintenance service repair provider, we not only offer impartial advice to our discerning clients, but also create tailored solutions which are unique to each customer’s needs. Abbey are a proud, premium tooling and maintenance service repair provider. To learn more about smart tooling solutions contact the team today and find the right tool to help fix your tooling headaches.

sales@abbeyis.co.uk | 01924 224240