MAGDEBURG, Germany—Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF have come up with an automated visual inspection system that is reliable and economic even for one-off production runs.
PALMDALE, CA—Northrop Grumman Corp. has delivered the first F-35 center fuselage produced by its Integrated Assembly Line (IAL). The IAL maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional capacity and assembly capability while meeting engineering tolerances that are not easily achieved using manual methods.
Once upon a time, manufacturers attempted to automate everything and remove the human element with lights-out factories. But, people are still found on many assembly lines today because humans are still the most programmable, efficient "machines" for most assembly tasks.
Investing in automation requires a major commitment of time, money and other valuable resources. Unfortunately, end users often repeat the same mistakes with automation, because of time constraints and budget concerns.
No matter what type of product they make, all manufacturers walk the same fine line and face many of the same burdens. For example, when the path to profitability reaches a T or a Y, management often must make a critical decision: go left and invest in assembly automation technology, or go right and outsource production.