In this year’s American Machinist Benchmarks for Machine Shops survey, responses indicated that the use of automation is growing. Within the realm of automation, the survey asked about robotics, barfeeders, and multiple pallet changers.
The “use of automation” percentage among respondents, as compared to last year’s survey, dropped slightly for all shops taking the survey, but the use increased for the benchmark shops (those that scored highest in the survey). For these benchmark shops, the percentage for robotics use almost doubled from that of the 2008 survey, but rose only somewhat for all shops taking the survey.
When we asked these shops if they experienced “major” or “some” improvement as a result of incorporating barfeeders, a greater percentage of 2009 benchmark shops indicated that they experienced major improvements, as compared with the 2008 survey. Yet, for all respondent shops, that percentage decreased from 2008 to 2009.
The percentage of those shops that experienced some improvement as a result of barfeeders jumped for both all survey shops and the benchmark shops as compared with last year’s survey. Also, the percentage of shops that reported they do not use barfeeders decreased from the 2008 to the 2009 survey.
Across the board, the percentage of all shops and benchmark shops realizing major improvements as a result of multiple pallet changers has increased according to this year’s survey. Although, the percentage for some improvement as a result of multiple pallet changers decreased slightly from 2008 with all shops and rose for benchmark shops. And, for both groups, the percentage of shops not using multiple pallet changers rose in 2009 as compared with 2008.