The UK’s manufacturing industry is undoubtedly one of the essential sectors in the country. As per Made UK’s statistics, the manufacturing industry currently employs 2.7 million people who earn an average of £32,500. The sector is undergoing an intense period of change characterised by huge productivity gains inspired by technology. As such, small and medium-sized factories have gained access to various innovations previously exclusive to their larger competitors. This reality has levelled the playing field and ensured newer and better products for consumers. Here’s how technology can improve your factory’s operations.
Streamline workflows with automation
Automation is undoubtedly welcome in the factory environment, even though it creates a lot of unease. The BBC estimates that artificial intelligence (AI) will create as many jobs in the country as it will displace over the next two years. Consequently, many workers are naturally concerned about job security anytime automation is mentioned. Nevertheless, no one can deny that automation makes workflows more streamlined and simple. For instance, you can rely on inventory management software to automatically reorder stock items after they are depleted to a specific level. Also, automation can handle repetitive but precise tasks like welding and spray painting in the automotive industry.
The UK reportedly generated 43.9 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste in 2018 alone. Luckily, technology can also reduce waste in factories in various ways. For example, PLCs can keep track of and control factors and processes like time and temperature to conserve manpower hours and energy. Therefore, it is no surprise that manufacturers have been relying on PLCs for decades. However, there are many smart sensors in factories today that simultaneously report to networked PLCs and the cloud. These sensors can track and analyse big data for preventive maintenance and overall optimal performance of the manufacturing process. As such, the fusion of cloud-enabled technology and PLCs offers manufacturers more big-picture insights that let them create a more efficient manufacturing process.
Furthermore, food processing and other industries rely on technologies like load cell sensors to accurately measure the weight of raw materials used in their factories. Packaging machines also rely on load cells since they are crucial to weighing and packaging. As such, it makes sense to use load cells in your factory in as many appropriate applications as possible. Still, load cell sensors are prone to measurement errors over time. Therefore, loadcell calibration is essential to ensure your sensor operates as error-free as possible.
Improved quality insurance
Manufacturing rework is necessary for factories when parts, products, or components fail because they don’t need manufacturing standards. This rework is caused by machine faults, human error, poorly implemented design changes, and even damage in transit. It takes a lot of time, labour, materials, and equipment to perform this rework, all of which can increase your operational costs and result in unwanted energy consumption. However, Industry 4.0 has greatly improved quality assurance. Technologies like robots and cloud-based QMS apps can inspect products for faults, detecting them faster and better than through manual inspections.