WHAT ARE THE TASK OPERATING HOURS?
This is a very important question to ask yourself. As a Robotics Specialist, this is always one of the first questions that I ask. When it comes to considering robotics, one must consider not only the feasibility of the application but also the return on investment (ROI) to determine if the application makes sense from a business perspective. Oftentimes this component gets overlooked until many hours have been spent on the engineering side.
ROI is variable and has to take not only the application into account but the hours of operation and the burden rate of an employee (pay rate, insurance, disability, social security, etc). With minimum wage on the rise, many companies are starting to realize faster return on investment periods for adding collaborative automation.
IS THE TASK ONE OF THE 3 “D’S” (DIRTY, DULL, DANGEROUS)?
We touched on the “Dull” portion with point #1. But let’s elaborate on the dirty and dangerous portions. Dirty jobs are generally the tasks that employees do not want to perform. They could be smelly, grimy, or even involve the employee needing to take regular breaks to get cleaned up.
These can be a morale killer and impact productivity by employees feeling negative about the task they are being asked to perform. Some of these tasks even start falling into the dangerous category. Chemical cleaners, working around hot objects, or working in tightly confined spaces can become dangerous very quickly. To go back to our previous example of cooking burgers on a grill, there is the very real potential of an employee being injured carrying out this task. Not only is there the potential of an employee accidentally touching the grill and being burnt, but there is also the chance that grease could contact the employee during the cooking process and cause a potentially serious injury.
In some robotic applications, the main goal isn’t just to increase throughput or reduce cost but to alleviate the need for the operator to carry out dangerous tasks. However, the two are not mutually exclusive and all of these factors can be considered when evaluating the potential of robotic integration.