We’ve all heard the saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” At Rosler Metal Finishing, we often view automation as the solution—or fix, if you will—for mass finishing and shot blasting processes in need of added efficiency.
Previous posts in our Automation Blog Series focused on how robots improve finishing processes and why automation is beneficial to your business. We now turn our focus to an organization’s potential motivation for considering automation with the question, “What problems do you want to solve?”
Both mass finishing and shot blasting are specialized processes that require a lot of practical consideration. Automating these processes can deliver great benefits to a manufacturer when properly targeted to a prescribed need, but, if the engineers developing the machine don’t understand your challenges, the solution is likely to miss its mark.
Evolving from an automated concept to reality requires a substantial amount of exploration and planning. Before the first machine is ordered, a company must have developed a surface treatment process that fully meets its targets for the desired finishing outcome and communicate what the specific problems are for successful automation integration.
Viewing these issues as challenges, the experts at Rosler compiled a list of common issues that we have provided automated solutions for, including:
- Inadequate finishing quality – The achieved finish (surface smoothing/polishing, surface preparation for painting, meeting required Almen values of a shot peening process, etc.) is not good enough and must be improved.
- Inconsistent finishing results – The required finishes cannot be achieved in a consistent, repeatable manner.
- Costs are too high – The achieved finishes may be acceptable, but processing costs are not competitive.
- Poor operational flexibility – The current process is too rigid and does not allow for quick reaction to changing demand patterns resulting in long lead times.
- Not enough qualified labor – It has become increasingly difficult to find people who are trained and willing to do mechanical grinding and polishing or even more basic tasks like material handling.
Evaluating Your Process
Once you know what problem your finishing process is experiencing, it’s time to step through the entire process in order to identify places for automation and other solutions.
The first considerations are the work piece itself, desired surface finish, and desired or required processing technique. Once you have all the requirements and goals for these areas, determining whether the work pieces can be processed continually or in batches must be made. Deciding whether the work pieces are sturdy enough to come into contact with one another during processing or if part-on-part contact is prohibited must also be determined.
Machine selection is the next step. Based on the specific type of machine chosen, consumables must also be selected. Relevant consumables may include compounds and ceramic, plastic, polishing and drying, and shot blasting media.
Once these process factors have been evaluated, the surface treatment process can be properly defined. That’s when the advantages of automation can be realized, including:
- Consistent, repeatable process results.
- Cost savings.
- Improved operational flexibility.
- Overcoming labor shortages.
Finding a better way…
Our motto is “finding a better way.” Whether that is by adding automation to your existing process or developing a new, automated system, we have the expertise you need.
In our next Automated Blog Series post, we’ll discuss how to select the right machine and consumables in more depth.
Until then, contact us to learn how we can help remedy your problems by automating your finishing process and improve finishing results and efficiency in the process.
The complete Automation Series includes:
- Part 1 – How Robots are Improving Mass Finishing and Shot Blasting Processes.
- Part 2 – Why Automation is Beneficial for Your Business.
- Part 3 – What Problems Do You Want to Solve?
- Part 4 – How Do I Select the Right Machine and Consumables?
- Part 5 – What Automation Hardware is Available?
- Part 6 – Environmental Considerations of Automation.
- Part 7 – The Top 3 Mass Finishing and Shot Blasting Machines.
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