Automation in the glass industry is growing. As Industry 4.0 continues to trend upward, glass manufacturers are finding ways to increase productivity, speed production flow, anticipate potential breakdowns, and mitigate problems. That means major investments in optimization, 3-D printing, big data networking and yes, robotic automation.
Center stage of the latter is Skyline Windows in New York City. The nearly 100-year-old custom window manufacturer and installer, recently incorporated robotic technology in its factory floor in Woodridge, New Jersey. According to a report by CNBC, Skyline automates portions of its manufacturing process such as cutting holes in metal — performed by a single $150,000 robot — and installing the glass itself — performed by two $20,000 robots.
“It allows us to be more efficient—and our plan is to buy more of these robots when we can," senior vice president Matt Kraus told CNBC. The company generates about $70 million in annual revenue and employs about 350 people.
By 2025, robots will handle about 25% of all industrial tasks according to the Boston Consulting Group. As for overall Industry 4.0, just 33% of manufacturers are at a level of digitization to qualify; by 2020, that total is expected to more than double to 72%.
As Kraus suggests, elements of Industry 4.0 creates efficiencies for the manufacturer, but there are direct benefits for the customer too. By optimizing the entire glass manufacturing process, users have full transparency of every step of the way, from modeling to coating to cutting to shipping.
Increased automation means improvements in worker safety and better workforce management. Workers can let the machines handle certain tasks while they deliver expertise elsewhere to boost productivity. Besides optimizing the resources around production, Industry 4.0 also reduces the energy consumption of your facility, which reduces costs.
Have you incorporated automation in your factory? If so, how has it helped your overall growth? What do you think of Industry 4.0? Do you plan to make any investments to transform your facility into a smart factory? Tell us your experience below!