Automated Transportation to Redefine Smart Factories

Automated Transportation to Redefine Smart Factories

Manufacturing Technology Insights | Friday, September 16, 2022

Companies are moving towards greater automated transportation initiatives at work sites to accelerate the abilities of smart factories and become more efficient.

FREMONT, CA: Many efforts are being made across the globe to make factories smarter, but the automation and efficiency-raising of transportation at industrial plants are lagging behind developments in production. As a result, a new proposal has been developed, integrating concepts and resources from robots and mobility products, focusing on transfers and transportation at factories. This connects one facility or operation to another from the micrometre level to kilometres.

Automating Transportation to Connect Manufacturing Sites

With the start of Industry 4.0, manufacturers are moving forward with initiatives to establish smart factories by optimising advanced technologies like IoT and artificial intelligence at their manufacturing plants worldwide. However, many sites face challenges in achieving the true meaning of a smart factory due to differences in perception and definition of it.

In a recent exhibition, numerous companies presented a variety of products and technologies aimed at bringing smart factories into reality. However, proposals focused on transportation at manufacturing and production sites outshone other concepts. Manufacturing plants continuously move goods from transporting small components to fully assembled parts.

When compared to the labour involved in creating or assembling products, transportation procedures and operations have not yet undergone full automation. Therefore, a new system that integrated ideas and resources in robotics and mobility, emphasising transportation from the micrometre level to medium-range transportation to link industries and factories, gained momentum.

Various factors are involved in improving transportation efficiency, from distance and time to the environment. The amalgamation of robot and mobility technologies is indispensable for streamlined connectivity between processes, devices, and companies. There is a need for unmanned and electric vehicles for automated transportation indoors and outdoors in worksites. However, every worker who creates products should be free to work independently, such as doing their R&D and sales.

Earlier, the time invested in transfers and transportation did not always directly contribute to production efficiencies. Now, companies are accelerating their automation of production sites by adding functionality to their processes and linking them together. This will mitigate the severe strain of operating transportation operations, resulting in solutions that help people work more efficiently.

Autonomous vehicles are now widely seen in manufacturing plants. They are becoming a fixture of the smart factory floor and are revolutionising operations. A wide range of various types of autonomous mobile robots seamlessly operate alongside human employees and use advanced tools to work. Self-learning technology and sensors assist them in mapping their surroundings using infrastructure-free navigation, obstacle avoidance, and dynamic pathfinding, which helps them to transport raw materials or pick orders efficiently.

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