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Why Automation is Good for the Economy

When science fiction writers started to predict that robots would someday take over many of the jobs that human workers do, they probably didn’t realize that the time would come so quickly. In the last 10 years, engineers and computer scientists have made rapid advances in the design and production of robots. Computers and robots are everywhere, but especially in the manufacturing industry. Automation will certainly change the way people do work, but that doesn’t mean that the overall number of jobs will decrease or that the economy will suffer. We can tell you about some of the ways that automation will increase jobs and the overall growth of the economy.

The Saved and Re-Invested Company Money

If a manufacturer invests in automation, it can save the business money and create jobs for people who assemble, design, and maintain the automated machines. There’s always the risk that the jobs that have become automated will be lost, but when companies have more money, they can hire in other areas, increase their existing employees’ wages, or start new off-shoot companies. This creates more money flowing through the economy and provides opportunities.

The Nature of Technological Advancement

In terms of the people creating and maintaining the machines, their skills will be highly valued. More people will study engineering and robotics, and skilled jobs will steadily grow in demand. Even what could be considered unskilled jobs, or assembly of machines or routine maintenance, will need to be completed by humans. Over the course of history, humans and machines have always worked in tandem. When the first stone chisel was invented, it took fewer people and less work to cut things, but it created a whole new field of possibilities for what humans could do with the saved time and energy. If you think about the evolution of technology as this type of progress, saved and redistributed effort, then robots are just the next phase and the economy will continue to adapt and flourish as a result. Economies adapt to these types of shifts in each age, and preventing innovation isn’t really an option anyway.

Staying Competitive

The fact is, automation has been proven to save companies resources, so eventually any company that wants to be competitive is going to invest in it. If a country wants to stay at the top of their respective field, they’ll invest in this convenient and cutting-edge technology. Automation will not only create new types of jobs and increase liquid revenue in the economy, it will also pave the way for even more advances in the future that will be the foundation of economies then.

Creating a Foolproof Automation System for Your Business

In an age with increasing costs and additional demands, finding a way to automate some business processes using technology may be the key to solving problems. At Concept Systems, our engineers are problem solvers who use the latest in technology to create foolproof automation systems for businesses.

There are 2 primary reasons businesses choose to automate some or all of their processes whether those processes are related to production or fulfillment. First, manual processes are costly, and employee skills can be better allocated if the repetitive tasks are done by machinery. Already, engineers are hard at work designing robotic controllers that can grind and brew coffee to order and machines that can be used to eliminate weeds without the use of herbicides on corporate farms.

Second, automation increases production. Automating a manufacturing operation typically means increased production rates and labor productivity. In the simplest terms, business owners get more output per labor hour.

So how do Concept Systems engineers hammer out a robotic vision and controller for a specific industry or organization?

We start with a problem. When we kick-off a project, we spend time getting to know the full scope of a project and the necessary elements for success. The proposal to solving your problem will include the cost and a schedule. Fully understanding the problem and developing ideas for an automated solution or upgrade to your existing processes requires a bit of time as we determine what your system will do and how it will work. Our engineers work with key players in your company to draft on paper an elegant system including materials, electrical schematics and software.

For example, for a coffee roasting company, we upgraded a robot that was designed to unload pallets full of raw coffee beans and place the bags on a conveyor belt to send to the roaster. The robot’s vice grips, however, were a problem and often tore bags and spilled beans.

A Concept System team met with company stakeholders to design pneumatically-operated tines that eliminated tearing as well as a control system with 3D vision and advanced software to precisely position bags on the pallet.

Once a company approves a design, Concept Systems engineers get to work creating software and hardware to alleviate or solve the problem. This phase of development involves procuring materials, assembling the project, and testing.

During the final phase of development, engineers work closely with vendors at the factory or operation site to ensure proper installation of equipment and to train personnel to support and maintain the automated system.

Automation and robotics are the wave of the future. With specially engineered tools and resources, a team of engineers can create a foolproof automation system for your business and move your company into the future today. Contact us today to get started!

Trends in Vision: New Camera Imagers

An interesting vision trend is that the whole camera industry is undergoing a technology revival. The last revival in the vision industry was for cheap, reliable, and bright LED lighting. While this was incredible, at the end of the day it was simply a bright light. Not much to talk about really, even though it was fun at the beginning. The most recent technology revival is being caused by the flood of new camera imagers from the consumer cell phone camera industry. A camera imager is the device that takes the photons and turns them into digital values. An imager has millions of the digital photon receptors, and each one is called a pixel.

vision automation pick placeIn the past, vision engineers treasured their large imagers in the 1” or 2/3” format, selecting CCD over CMOS because of the higher dynamic capabilities of the CCD imager. 1 megapixel, 2 megapixel and 5 megapixel were the usual bus stops for machine vision engineers, and each bus stop usually cost a thousand dollars per stop or so. This was pretty much carved in the stone tablets that came down from the mountain, and us vision guys rolled with it on the various jobs we encountered. Throw in a $250, $500, or $1200 lens for each stop, and you have a camera. If your problem was particularly involved and single pixel accuracy was demanded (or you needed a lower F number), then maybe doubling the lens cost could get you where you needed to be. Continue Reading →

Main Automation Contractor

Our process results in a smoother, shorter startup and commissioning process. That leads to a quicker ramp-up to full production and profitability. Because we come in very early in the design, we can make sure that automation standards, networking standards, communication protocols, and access-to-data factors unique to the plant are incorporated into the design from the get-go.

As Main Automation Contractor (MAC), we work as part of the team, side-by-side with process engineers and owners, to assure that the design-for-automation meets the needs of all stakeholders. We represent plant owners by collaborating with equipment suppliers, and make sure the process design and control system operation is fully vetted before startup. Training begins earlier than in other models, which helps plant operators be ready to run the floor at the time of commissioning, shortening the amount of time it takes to reach production targets.

This is complex work. We have significant experience with the MAC Model, a well-structured project methodology and the depth of technical resources to make sure it happens smoothly. We’ve been told by a customer that for every $1 they invested in the MAC Model, they saved $10 on the backend by having the plant start up properly the first time.

UTILIZING PLANTPAX FOR MAIN AUTOMATION CONTRACTOR PROJECTS
Commonality
• Same look and feel across systems
• Well-organized programs and re-use • Functionality
• Full-featured and scalable