Out lead time further supports Just-In-Time delivery which

Out of all the forms within which metal is employed
for producing, the sheet is one in all the foremost elementary forms utilized
in industries and innumerable objects that we tend to see around us are made up
from sheet metal only. Either it’s a small panel in a car or an entire airplane
fuselage, sheet metal is finding endless use cases. Each & every
manufacturing unit, be it in an Automotive segment or Aviation, Consumer Goods
or Medical Instrumentation and even construction material have the dependency on
sheet metal and so does dependency on the sheet metal forming processes.

There are numerous standard forming operations one can
witness in a sheet metal process shop like Bending, Drawing, Hemming, Seaming,
Cutting, Punching, Spinning & Stamping and even though these processes are
carried out since decades, still there’s a great scope of improvement
altogether. Automation is the key factor over here which is really transforming
these processes. Using automation not only helps in achieving an unparalleled
level of quality & consistency but also significantly reduces per piece
costs by minimizing the labour input, increasing overall process efficiency and
reducing the wastages incurred to make the part. It also enables the production
unit to run 24/7, which results in shorter lead times and the ability to fill peak
orders. Reduced lead time further supports Just-In-Time delivery which results
in lower inventory levels on hand and ultimately, higher cost savings.

Currently, throughout the forming process there are
many steps which are and can be automated. For de-palletizing, loading/line feeding
and other front-of-line tasks, many standard automation solutions are available
which can be closely integrated with advanced CNC machines used for core
forming processes like bending, roll forming, spinning, drawing etc. On the
other hand, companies are using tailored solutions where a custom-designed fabricating
cell having tending robots which can cut, fold and process sheets, with workpieces
shifting between welding, grinding & painting stations inter-connected by transportation
conveyors. For the end-of-line processes like inspection, labelling, packing
and palletising which are usually monotonous & tiring, there are numerous
plug & play solutions available which can be effortlessly installed &
operated. Moreover, with ever-increasing IOT implementation in industries, all
these machines & equipments are digitally connected with each other which give
a scope of continuous process improvement to the managers who can always access
the data & reports generated through the dashboards.      

Although, automation is very critical for remaining
competitive in the industry and it does sounds like a solution for every
problem, but it does not mean that one should go blindly about it. There are some
important factors which should be considered in order to remain competitive and
to get a decent return on the investment. Depending on the operations &
scale of production, automation (or I should say, any type of automation) may
or may not be the best option. In case it’s a small operation with lower
production levels, the initial investment of automating would not be
economical. On the other hand, if the current process is spread out in a larger
facility with a lot of manual intervention, using robotics and automation
definitely makes sense. Along with volumes, if production teams are also struggling
to manage the part repeatability & quality, which again is consequential to
excess human labour involvement, it’s always recommended to relook the processes
and optimize it using appropriate automation solutions.      

It’s quite clear that automation can have a significant
positive impact on these processes and since gains in productivity and cost
reduction are clearly visible, so as to gain leadership in manufacturing, it
should be quickly adopted.