The sheet metal working companies are generally anchored in tradition, and several processes are still carried out by hand.
Fremont, CA: The metals industry is having a challenging time with the digitization. In comparison, the automotive industry has turned out to be one of the Industrial 4.0 era pioneers and has now achieved a degree of automation of almost 90 percent. Several small and medium-sized sheet metal fabrication companies still depend on manual procedures. For instance: bending is usually carried out by hand – regardless of the monotony of an activity that practically cries out for automation. One of the prime reasons is that sheet metal fabricators have a broader product range than the automotive industry. Instead of producing the same chassis a thousand times, they manufacture 500 cabinet-sized equipment holders in the morning and small products in the afternoon.
Robots aid employees and reduce unit costs
Cutting, welding, and bending are a few of the sheet metal processing industry's core tasks. The automation of these tasks in sheet metal fabrication creates increased productivity and competitiveness. So does robot-supported parts handling at the individual processing stations, eliminating manual, monotone, and error-prone procedures. For instance, machines for leveling and deburring are now available equipped with robot arms for parts handling.
Digitalization has a positive influence on productivity
Until now, sheet metal fabrication processes have generally been carried out utilizing isolated solutions that are not networked. Employees need to coordinate individual stations. This tedious work makes no added value and has had an increasingly negative impact on productivity in the Industrial 4.0 era, demanding more flexibility and speed than before. Thus, the automation of sheet metal fabrication is essential. As crucial as the digitalization and networking of machines and systems to create greater operating transparency and reveal optimization potentials.
This is where digital assistance systems come into play. Using these systems, companies can collect real-time data about all of the equipment's condition, carry out proactive maintenance, analyze capacity utilization, and optimize energy costs. The workers are also more effective and efficient. That is why digitalization is heralding the end of the docket era in more and more companies.