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In a world that is always connected and moving fast, no business wants to deal with extensive downtime and the costs it raises. As efficiency becomes a primary driver of business, industries are investigating new and innovative ways to reduce downtime. These include the implementation of automation and robotics.

Erik Hupjé, founder of Road to Reliability™ believes world-class organisations ensure less than 2% of their total maintenance should be emergency maintenance. While each industry and business is different, some organisations are striving for even better results.

Yaskawa reducing downtime using robots

In South Africa Yaskawa supplies robots to the automotive, manufacturing, packaging and other industries.

“One of our clients aims for 1% downtime in its overall uptime,” says Colin Brings, Total Customer Support Director at Yaskawa Southern Africa. “So far, it’s been an achievable and realistic target for the company, partially due to the robots being highly reliable. It’s usually the peripheral equipment, such as tooling and jigging, that affect the downtime more than the robots.”

Modern robotic solutions feature predictive technology that warns operators of possible failures or parts that will need to be replaced. Instead of anticipating a possible breakdown at some time, businesses can prepare for maintenance, plan ahead and better control their operations.

“All our latest robots have built-in maintenance algorithms so they can predict the life expectancy of speed reducers, such as gearboxes, and servo amplifiers like the drives for the motors,” Brings says. “If businesses implement and adhere to these checks, they can schedule maintenance accordingly and eliminate unnecessary downtime.”

The automotive industry is one of the largest to benefit from automation, but the implementation of robotics has reduced downtime and improved operations for other industries too.

“Even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we noticed an increase in demand for end-of-line packaging and food handling robots,” Brings says. “For example, we embarked on an automation project with a number of bakeries recently. One of the bakeries produces 8 000 loaves of bread per hour, with five to eight people running the factory. As a result, they are highly dependent on the robots’ output and uptime, as any downtime could result in a shortage of bread in the area.”

He adds that the sanitaryware industry has also shown an uptake in automation, in an effort to manage uptime and curb unpredictability. Robots are being used to sand and polish quartz resin baths, and to inspect and check the quality of the baths before export.

“In a fast-moving and highly competitive world, late deliveries or production issues due to downtime, cannot be overlooked,” Brings says. “Businesses need to ensure these moments are rare and that they don’t impact their clients and customers.”

Operational downtime is costly. Productivity, process and consistency translate into profit, and technology can support this continuity.

Internationally, Yaskawa is one of the largest manufacturers of industrial robots with over 400 000 robots installed worldwide. Since 1991, Yaskawa Southern Africa has installed more than 2 500 Motoman robots in the automotive, manufacturing and packaging industries in South Africa. The company offers turnkey system solutions for various industries and 24/7 countrywide support.

For more information visit: https://www.yaskawa.za.com/

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