How Conveyors and Robots Create Safer Environments in Metalworking
The metalworking industry is experiencing strong growth today as demands for fabrication and production increases worldwide. While the market is being driven by a healthier economy and a rise in demand, there are still key challenges that manufacturers at these plants must address.
In this post, we’ll look at how conveyors, together with robots, help to make these risk-intensive environments safer.
Metal Industry Challenges
Skilled labor shortages, increasing regulations and the need to incorporate new technologies that drive down costs are all important in manufacturing. Perhaps one of the most critical areas of focus though is the need to provide a safe working environment for all. Unique hazards present throughout these manufacturing facilities where workers are fabricating, cutting, grinding, welding and performing a number of other tasks throughout the workday, make safety a top priority.
The Board of Labor Statistics reported 4.5 million injuries in the metal manufacturing industry in the U.S. in 2017. To combat this, the government and other groups like OSHA, help to protect workers and ensure proper safety protocols are in place.
The Importance of Conveyor Systems
Conveyors, which are a staple in metalworking facilities, help to boost productivity levels by hauling parts and pieces from one place to another as needed. The speed and accuracy of modern conveyors help companies increase their output quality. In addition, conveyors play an important role in keeping laborers safe as they work.
Since workers don’t have to operate additional equipment like a forklift to move products, there is less of a chance for injury to occur. Additional steps can be taken to also increase safety with conveyors including adding emergency stops and machine guards. These help further reduce the chance that a worker will be pinched, pulled or crushed by a machine.
Robots Lend a Strong Helping Hand
With industry 4.0 taking over, and automation technologies entering the factory, we’re also seeing robotics become a permanent part of manufacturing. Together conveyors and robots can maximize production times while reducing human error and injuries.
Many of the robots on the factory floor today operate as cobots and work alongside humans taking on the intensive and dangerous tasks. They can move very quickly and position things with extreme precision. They can handle lifting large heavy machinery or metal and do so without putting the production worker at risk. They can also assist with things such as Arc welding for a perfected weld and reduced risk of burns for human workers. Or, work assembly lines and help plants to achieve lean manufacturing standards by reducing waste, speeding up the assembly line and achieving better accuracy.
How Conveyors & Robots Can Work Together
The metalworking industry is about a lot more than moving metal parts around – parts which can be best handled by robots and conveyors due to their size, weights and often sharp edges. The metalworking industry also requires pieces to be welded, grounded, polished, painted or otherwise treated, and stamped to name a few. Today robots are able to assist their human operators with many of these tasks, and in many instances, the robots can be programmed to complete these tasks with little human assistance. Due to the dangerous nature of these processes and the often hazardous dusts created and chemical used; combined with the robotic process it is ideal that conveyors bring the pieces of metal into and out of the workcells where the robots are performing tasks. The timing between processes and the ability to queue and store parts between robotic work areas are all tasks easily handled by conveyors. Whereas the robots may be completing the required metalworking, conveyors are necessary to ensure product flow.
mk North America’s conveyor systems offer modular designs, specialty belting options, and precise robotics to help metalworking plants improve efficiency and give manufacturers a competitive edge.
Get in touch today to learn about metalworking conveyor system solutions from mk North America.