Injection molding automation systems have gained traction amidst supply chain constraints, labor shortages, and growing demand for manufacturing services. Their increasing popularity is due to the numerous advantages offered in the production environment and to the customer. Automation and robotics have all evolved to better support part and mold design, molding processes, and upstream and downstream operations. In addition, it allows the injection molder to deliver additional value making the quality-to-total cost ratio highly competitive.
Let’s examine how automation systems are used in injection molding further and what benefits customers can expect when working with a partner using such systems.
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How Injection Molding Automation Systems are Used
Automation and robots used throughout the injection molding process can increase efficiency, speed, and precision. Modern injection molding equipment, tight process control, and automation equipment work together to allow injection molders to work lights out or with fewer people, opening up capacity and allowing three shifts to run. This doesn’t eliminate the need for trained staff. Collaborative robots (cobots) work beside humans performing repetitive tasks that could lead to repetitive motion injuries. No matter what automation systems are used, engineers are needed to monitor the systems and input programs.
Reducing the need for operator intervention by having cobots perform repetitive, typically hands-on, tasks allows molders to achieve a high degree of predictability, consistency, and repeatability through hundreds and thousands of cycles.
Automated systems remove or greatly reduce the chance of human error while allowing humans to work safer and with greater productivity. Automated systems and cobots can perform a number of functions, including:
- Material Handling
- Insert Placement
- Part Handling
- Decorating or Label Placement
Customer Value Delivered Through Injection Molding Automation Systems
Automation has obvious benefits for the molder, but improving the customer experience is what leads to retention and growth. Customers who have their needs met typically don’t look for other suppliers. While automation and robots increase operational efficiency, mitigate risk, and reduce potential employee injuries, they also provide customers with tangible value.
Consistent Part Quality — Automation operates with precision and accuracy impossible for humans to achieve. With tight process controls in place, automation delivers parts with exact dimensions every time, with no exception. When automation is extended to quality control by having inspection automated, measurements are more consistent, and visual defects are found (and resolved by engineers) more quickly.
Reduced waste — Impeccable quality and less variance translate into less waste and few products needing to be molded to make up for a high scrap rate.
Faster lead time — Consistency and reduced need to fix errors means increased efficiency. Automation systems can run continuously without interruption. All things equal, an automated system will be able to deliver products faster.
Need a Turnkey Tending System? We do that: Learn more about our 6-axis robots that allow for consistent part removal, degating, and outgoing placement 24/7.
Noble Plastics is a Leader in Injection Molding Automation
We were ahead of the curve when we purchased an industrial robot from FANUC 20 years ago. We had no experience with robotics or automation but knew if we wanted to provide our customers with consistently high-quality parts and competitive prices, we needed to make this investment. Now 23 years later, we have 20 robots and have won several awards for innovation. We even help other companies set up automation systems.
We have taken our automation beyond robotics. Our advanced monitoring capabilities on all production cells include cavity pressure, production, process, and asset monitoring, which is fed into our proprietary system. The system collects and analyzes the data and uses the analysis results in an automated fashion to make decisions more effectively than by using traditional methods.
When you work with us, you get 20 years of advanced scientific molding experience and a diverse engineering group that is committed to consistently delivering challenging, tight tolerance injection molded parts with exceptional quality.
Contact us to learn more about how we use automation to deliver tight-tolerance injection molded parts.