• Choosing the wrong automation.
For example something too big or too small. Shops often define the scope of a project as just replacing an operator, while the scope must include much more such as part variations and tooling. There must be a clear understanding of the manufacturing variances that are part of the process upstream of the automation. Shops should first try automating a project or process they have under control, then learn from it for future projects.
• Unforeseen failures.
Shops often fail to budget the full amount required to do the project properly, then end up cutting corners, which degrades the effectiveness of automation the automation solution. You get what you pay for, and often the lowest cost is not the best solution.
• Unrealistic expectations.
Equipment might not be as plug-and-play as thought to be and may require time to learn how to program or work with the new automation. For more difficult processes, shops should conduct a proof of concept prior to starting the project. Making bad assumptions and not conducting any type of simulation can spell missed expected cycle times. A few dollars spent upfront can potentially save 5 to 10 times in backend costs. Buy more robot than you need. Shaving the robot costs by purchasing right up against the payload capacity or envelope limits can add costs in the long run when there is a need to add functionality, more payload or another part to the cell.
• Not integrating optimally.
Select a qualified systems integrator that will take full project responsibility. Shop multiple vendors because there are many ways to automate a process.
After spending a lot of money on automation, make sure your staff is fully trained. A small investment upfront will yield increased uptime through the life of the installation. And, your integrator may not always be the best source for training, so you may want to engage a professional training service. Safety related issues from a lack of proper training can cause big problems.