For most of the 20th century the process in which cars were manufactured remained largely the same. Almost every function would be performed by a human, including some of the more difficult and potentially dangerous. However the 1980’s saw the start of what could only be described as a revolution in automotive manufacturing. This revolution came in the form of the use of robots which began to perform functions that were previously reserved for humans to speed up production.
This blog post will take a closer look at just why the introduction of this process has changed automotive manufacturing forever.
Characters like C-3PO and R2-D2 have shaped much of people’s conceptions about robots. However, in reality the robots that are used to build a vehicle are significantly different from their movie star counterparts. Almost every single manufacturing robot is a single arm offering and bears absolutely no resemblance a typical science fiction robot.
Depending on their job task these robots will be fitted with different appendages. This allows them to carry out a number of different tasks. For example a robot that deals with windscreen installation will feature some kind of vacuum powered suction device for handling the smooth glass. On the other hand, a robot that deals with welding will have its own arc welder which allows it to fuse two pieces of metal together.
Humans will be ever grateful for the introduction of these robots as it allows them to escape potentially dangerous areas. Allowing computer guided machinery to access some of the harder to reach areas has had a very positive impact on the well-being of manufacturing operatives.
Fundamentally the introduction of the robots has helped to almost eliminate workforce injury, whilst at the same time ensuring a much more consistent product. It is now believed that as much as 50 percent of all robots are used in the automotive manufacturing field.
Of course there are other high profile examples of the benefits of using robots or robotic functions. One excellent example comes in the area of bomb disposal. These robots think nothing of entering highly dangerous areas and dealing with intense, life threatening situations.
Unlike the fictional characters that were mentioned above, modern day manufacturing robots don’t have the ability to think for themselves. As a result of this they require a human to provide their work instructions.
These instructions are delivered either by a computer program or alternatively a teach pendant. The latter is simply a device that allows the robotic function to be controlled remotely. The main benefit of which allows the operator to instruct the robot without having to be tethered to a fixed terminal.
It should be remembered that regular servicing is important when dealing with this type of equipment. There are teach pendant repairs and service specialists that exist to help ensure that safe operation is always available. If things go wrong with this type of device there will normally be a safety cut off, often coming in the form of a large red stop button.
Since the advent of robotics, automotive manufacturers have enjoyed significant cost savings. Worker insurance premiums and claims have reduced dramatically as a result of much improved safety. Previously a task like the rotation of a vehicle to allow improved human access would have taken a number of people to do. Now, thanks to these robots it is carried out in just a few seconds.
Most significant is that automotive manufacturers now have fewer vehicles developing claims that need to be dealt with under warranty because of the preciseness of the robots work. There are no sick days, strikes or other issues that can and often do crop up with a human workforce. Many of these automotive manufactures have since set up round the clock production, all with the minimum of supervision from human workers.