With the ever increasing demand for affordable and high quality products, automated machinery for use in the manufacturing industry seems to be one of the solutions to the classic dilemma of how to produce cheap and affordable, yet high quality goods. Industrial automation and control equipment allow for dimensionally uniform parts, where pieces are the same across the board.
With a growing literate and educated consumer population who scrutinise what they buy more closely than ever, the quality and uniformity of most products is essential to the reputation of any company that puts its name on its items. For this reason, automated machinery is a must for most processes in the manufacturing industry. When purchasing industrial automation and control equipment at retailers such as eBay, buyers should consider the various types and familiarise themselves with the advantages and disadvantages that they can offer to both business owners and their employees.
Types of Industrial Automation and Control Equipment
There are two basic types of automated machines: numerically controlled machines and industrial robots. Choosing the most appropriate type depends on the application the machine is being used for.
Numerically Controlled Machines
Numerically controlled machines use sensors in order to calculate, measure, and articulate a cutting instrument to produce precision made parts required by various types of industries. These industries can include anything from aerospace to vehicle manufacturing. Numerically controlled machines are best known for creating parts with great consistency and less waste than traditional machines. This type of process is referred to as subtractive manufacturing and describes how a machine or tool is used to cut away at a piece of material in order to create a desired shape essential to the part’s intended function. During this process large amounts of waste are produced and is compounded when errors are made. Therefore, using a numerically controlled machine eliminates human error, thereby creating a more cost effective process and greater profits.
Improved Consistency of Production for Manufacturing
It is also important to consider the level of consistency that these machines add to their operation. Consistencies in consumer specifications are a prerequisite when keeping overall operational costs down. Numerically controlled machines adhere to a strict language of numbers only, so eliminate the many variables, such as fatigue and error in measurements that lead to non-uniform, less consistent quality in the final product.
Industrial robots are used widely in the automotive industry due to their versatility, longevity, excellent precision, and accuracy. Similarly to numerically controlled machines, industrial robots are only able to comprehend a language of ones and zeros. Unlike humans, they have electric motors that allow them to work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, only stopping for reprogramming, regular preventative maintenance, repairs, or retooling. Some industrial robots have the ability to retool themselves by selecting different types of bits or tools based on the task that is required and information programmed into the machine's central processing unit.
Improved Efficiency for Manufacturing
Industrial robots are controlled by an electronically operated switch, also known as a relay. These robots are one of the more versatile automated manufacturing tools and can be programmed to make high quality precision products, apply consistent coats of paint, and even perform complex assemblies of high-tech items that may require soldering or some other type of process in a fraction of the time it would take a human worker to do. The industrial robot has proven to be essential in the electronics industry where it is largely used to assemble circuit boards at lightening speed. This type of efficiency is required for most technology companies in order for them to keep up with the increase in product demand.
Improved Safety for Manufacturing
Industrial robots are especially useful for jobs that present a great hazard to any human worker performing the same or similar tasks. Therefore, it is no surprise that most industries, such as the automotive industry, are choosing to use these machines to paint the panels and bodies of their vehicles. This virtually eliminates the exposure of humans to the harmful chemicals found in the paint that is aerosolised during application. When welding, these robots do not need to worry about "flash burn", a common injury that most welders experience after years of being exposed to the intense glow of their welding torch.
Industrial robots also guard against repetitive motion injuries that are all too common in assembly lines. As machines perform the tasks, they do it in exactly the same way every time and at a fraction of the time it takes the average human worker.
Advantages of Automated Manufacturing
There are many advantages of automated manufacturing, primarily for either the long term or short term returns on a company’s investment (ROI) into retooling their factories. These advantages include greater revenue, efficiency, productivity, and levels of safety.
Greater Revenue for Manufacturing
Although automated farming presents a large initial cost, a company utilising this method of manufacturing is likely to generate greater revenue almost immediately. Automated machines essentially pay for themselves in a very short period of time by increasing the manufacturing capacity and product output. This can increase a company’s profit margin exponentially.
Greater Efficiency for Manufacturing
The machines that replace humans in the workplace are simply faster and more efficient. As a result, costs are driven down due to the lower number of human errors in manufacturing and handling. This translates to reduced overhead costs and increased efficiency due in part to the superior precision and consistency that the machines exhibit.
Automated manufacturing also allows for "lights out" operations that can increase a company’s operational tempo through continuous non-stop production in the absence of any human workers. This is a key consideration that buyers look at when making the decision to transform their workforce from employees into automated machines.
Greater Levels of Safety
An automated production line has the potential to create a safer work environment by removing the human worker from exposure to hazardous materials and environments where potential dangers are ever present. This in turn reduces the number of injuries to employees.
Disadvantages of Automated Manufacturing
Although there are many advantages to industrial automation and control equipment within the manufacturing industry, buyers should also consider the disadvantages. Industrial automation tends to bring with it a loss of jobs, greater electricity costs, as well as greater costs to the supplier.
Loss of Jobs in Manufacturing
Although robotic machines do not need periodic breaks throughout the day, they do require regular preventative maintenance which leads to increased overhead costs. While their ability to work around the clock can be viewed as an advantage to business owners, this is not the case for displaced workers. As industrial automation and control equipment begins to take over human jobs, many employees find that their services are no longer required.
Electricity Costs for Manufacturing
Other disadvantages include use of power to operate autonomous industrial machines. Buyers should bear in mind is that use of electricity can drastically affect their utility bill and possibly require major improvements to their power grid.
Supplier Costs for Manufacturing
Increased supplier costs are another factor when switching to a fully or even partly automated manufacturing process. The inevitability of slight deviations in specifications of materials ordered from a supplier can not be tolerated as easily in an automated process. Therefore, the demand for suppliers to adhere to the strict specifications originally defined by the manufacturer may result in increased costs.
How to Buy Industrial Automation and Control Equipment on eBay
Buying industrial automation and control equipment on eBay offers buyers a wide variety of choice in any price range to meet any specific budget. Buyers can search easily for industrial automation and control equipment by typing the keywords into the search bar on eBay’s home page.
Searching by Location
Depending on the budget, buyers may choose to limit their search to industrial automation and control equipment being sold close to home. To find local sellers, buyers can filter the listing pages by item location. This allows buyers to limit the distance from a specific postcode. By using the sort drop down feature, buyers can arrange listings by distance in order of the nearest location.
Buyers should always communicate clearly with the sellers to see if they allow local collection. This information may be listed under the item description. While some sellers may not be comfortable with this type of transaction, others are willing to work with buyers to ensure a positive transaction and help to reduce postage and packaging costs.
As versatile as a human workforce is, under the right management and planning, industrial automation and control equipment can produce more output and improve manufacturing. While the displacement of people as a result of installing autonomous mechanical workers is never a pleasant thing, the potential to increase profits tends to outweigh this downside for many business owners.
When searching for industrial automation and control equipment, buyers should consider what they intend to use the machines for. This helps them to determine the right type of machine for their business needs. Numerically controlled machines are ideal for industries where consistency is key, while industrial robots are better suited for performing repetitive tasks in an efficient manner. With a range of industrial automation and control equipment available, eBay can help any buyer to find the right system to increase productivity and improve their manufacturing process. eBay offers competitive prices and a wide selection of products.