Electronics Manufacturing Sector: Role of Robots

Looking for ways to increase efficiency, businesses across the board have opted for new innovative designs and processes that have the potential to cut back on costs without undermining productivity, the use of robots being on top of their list of essential tools.

Importance of Industrial Robots in the Electronics Manufacturing Sector

Industrial robot technology affects the electronic manufacturing sector in beneficial ways. For instance, it allows for miniaturization, reduced lead times, faster production, and increased network throughput in order to keep unit costs low, undercutting competitor prices.

Moreover, robotics enable the utmost precision in a given company’s design and manufacturing process, significantly impacting assembly work and, as a result, optimizing the supply chain of electronics. In addition, they are swift, increasing uptime and minimizing waste.

This way, more products are produced over extended periods with little to no defects, playing a critical role throughout the varying stages of production, such as assembly, packing, and dispensing, to name only a few.

For instance, in 2016, the use of industrial robots in the electronic manufacturing sector led to an approximately 16% increase in global sales and, thus, the global market.

Pros & Cons

This growing progress regarding innovations in robotics has been taking over the electronics industry. However, as with any technology, its advantages are coupled with the potential disadvantages that may bloom. 

Therefore, it is vital for businesses to assess the integration of robotics applications into the electronics manufacturing sector and to evaluate the pros and cons of the process accordingly.

Pros

Improved Quality Assurance and Consistency

Thanks to the high accuracy and consistency industrial robots provide in the assembly and manufacturing process, product quality and throughput are improved regardless of how repetitive and boring the tasks may become. Without the worry of concentration levels ever declining, such as the case would be with an operator, costly errors and any potential injuries are prevented with robotic automation.

Prevention of Human Work In Dangerous Environments

Aside from any injuries that may arise due to a decrease in concentration levels, employees can also be asked to work in environments that can be deemed dangerous, such as in a highly contaminated setting. 

In such instances, industrial robots can perform the task just fine, preventing human operators from putting themselves at risk and potentially leading to irreversible bodily damage.

Improved Productivity and Throughput

Industrial robots can move more swiftly and consistently compared to human operators, working non-stop and improving productivity and throughput in a drastic manner. They can be installed in whatever application area they perform, where a human operator must be trained. They are further capable of achieving an extremely high level of accuracy, reducing waste and time spent on defects.

Cons

The Cost of Initial investment

The biggest downside of investing in robotic automation in manufacturing is the initial investment since robots require a high upfront investment. 

Although the returns can be substantial, it is important to evaluate the sustainability and stability of this technology within the company. Therefore, before investing in robotic automation, consider the costs and whether the risk is worth it. 

Insufficient Expertise 

Though on the rise, expertise in robotic automation is mostly in short supply. Since robotics still need human operators to be installed and further maintained and operated, there is a need for experts to do the job, and most staff may not be equipped in such a way.

Therefore, human operators need to be trained on the proper maintenance and operation of the system of robotic automation, adding additional investment to add this expertise to the given company’s staff.

Technology Limitations and Ongoing Costs

As technology evolves and certain aspects of production begin to require higher complexity, robotics also need to evolve in order to be up to par with the everchanging manufacturing processes businesses opt for in order to maintain a competitive edge in the electronics marketplace.

Furthermore, even though robotics substantially decreases manufacturing costs, the operators’ maintenance and training costs lead to further expenses.

Trends

Internet of Things (IOT)

A system of interrelated computing systems, IoT enables one to connect without the need for human-to-human or even human-to-computer interaction. We are now able to connect everyday objects to the internet through embedded systems, such as sensors, processors, or communication hardware devices.

Such digital systems are now able to collect, monitor, share, and act on the data they acquire from the interaction between connected objects in the digital world and their surrounding environments, with minimal human interference. Examples include kitchen appliances, cars, voice assistants, thermostats, and wearable fitness trackers.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has highly improved the costly and time-consuming phase of prototyping by creating products through a layer by layer building process. It is essentially the opposite concept of subtractive manufacturing, in which a product is made by cutting away blocks of material one by one until the design is finalized.

It can fabricate components into perfectly built single parts, enabling designers to test their products much more quickly and efficiently.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

All of the generated data and the tasks performed by industrial robotics create an environment for the use of AI. With the help of AI, any abnormalities in the manufacturing process can be both identified and diagnosed, improving product design and workflow.

Conclusion

In this competitive marketplace, companies will never cease to look for the quickest and most efficient ways to run their businesses. As this article entails, robotics will continue to permeate the electronics manufacturing sector for a long time, finding ways to lower costs, increase uptime and return high revenue levels.

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