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Automation Strategy

Five Misconceptions of Integrating Robotic Palletizing and Automated Systems in Manufacturing

A blue industrial robot with a multi-clawed attachment is positioned above a conveyor belt with orange rollers in a factory setting.

Integrating robotics, or automation in general, in manufacturing has long been a hot topic. The discussions around integrating these solutions are also often clouded by misconceptions and myths – especially from first-time adopters.

As technology advances, it’s crucial to address these misconceptions to better understand the role of robotics in modern manufacturing processes. There are many myths we can cover, but for today we’ll keep it to five and debunk them with facts and insights from industry experts.

Robots Are Taking Jobs Away From People in Manufacturing Plants

One of the most pervasive misconceptions about robotics in manufacturing is that they are replacing human workers, leading to widespread job losses. While it’s true that automation can lead to changes in the workforce, the narrative of robots completely replacing humans is often exaggerated. The changes are often beneficial to an employee. For example, they can go elsewhere in the plant and not palletize 50 lbs. bags all day. The labor shortage isn’t just at the end of the line. It’s throughout the whole plant.

Robots and humans can and should coexist in manufacturing environments, with each contributing unique strengths. Robots excel at repetitive tasks requiring precision and consistency, freeing human workers to focus on more complex and creative aspects of production. Additionally, the increased efficiency brought by robotics can lead to business growth and the creation of new job roles, such as robot programmers, maintenance technicians, and supervisors.

Misconception: Robotics Requires a Massive Investment

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, beliebe implementing robotics in their manufacturing processes requires a massive upfront investment they cannot afford.

This just isn’t true anymore.

While robotics technology can involve significant initial costs, advancements in robotics have made it more accessible to a wider range of businesses. There are now options for modular and flexible robotic systems that can be scaled according to a company’s needs and budget. Additionally, the long-term benefits of increased productivity, reduced errors, and lower operating costs often outweigh the initial investment, leading to a positive return on investment (ROI) over time.

One other quick note is this doesn’t always have to be a capital equipment investment. There are companies like our partners over at Formic who provide robots as a service (RaaS), allowing you to pay a monthly fee based on output.

Robots Lack Adaptability and Versatility

Some perceive robots as rigid machines that can only perform specific tasks and are not capable of adapting to changes in production requirements.

However, Modern robotic systems are designed to be highly adaptable and versatile—especially with the advances made in AI. Advanced robotics technologies, such as collaborative robots and small-footprint industrial robots, can be easily reprogrammed and reconfigured to handle different tasks and workflows. This flexibility allows manufacturers to quickly adjust to changing market demands, product variations, and production schedules without extensive retooling or retraining.

We’ve seen this in action time and time again with our current customers.

Misconception: Robotic Systems are only Suitable for Large-Scale Production

There is a common belief that robotics in manufacturing is only feasible for large-scale production facilities due to the perceived complexity and cost.

Sure, large-scale manufacturers have been early adopters of robotics, but the technology is now accessible to businesses of all sizes. Smaller manufacturers can benefit from robotics through modular systems, collaborative robots, and automation solutions tailored to their needs. These technologies enable small and medium-sized businesses to improve efficiency, quality, and competitiveness without needing a massive infrastructure overhaul.

Misconception: Robotics Is Entirely a Plug-and-Play Solution

This one may ruffle some feathers with the folks who love to use the word turnkey. Some assume that integrating robotics into manufacturing processes is as simple as purchasing a robot and plugging it in, expecting immediate results without considering factors like training and integration.

The robot plays a major role, but it’s just a tiny piece in a big puzzle.

Robotics technology has become more user-friendly, but successful integration requires careful planning, training, and integration with existing systems. Manufacturers must assess their workflows, train employees on robot operation and maintenance, and ensure seamless integration with other automation and control systems. Collaboration between robotics providers, integrators, and manufacturing teams is essential to achieve optimal results and maximize the benefits of robotics in production environments.

Let the Robotic Palletizing Experts at NOVA Automation Help

The way to find the best solution is to work closely with an integrator, or manufacturer. This relationship should start out as consultative to ensure success for both parties. The integrator can work closely with you to make sure the solution recommended checks all of the boxes you need checked to be successful.

If you’re considering automating the end of your packaging line, but aren’t sure which option works best for you, contact us today. We have been helping companies package more product for more than 25 years and would love to help guide you through the automation process.