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Flexible automation: definition, meaning and difference with rigid automation

Flexible automation is a new frontier of industrial automation; letโ€™s find out what it is first.

Flexible automation: definition and meaning

Flexible automation is a new production system which is based on the use of industrial robots capable of such flexibility as to rapidly change the type of production.

Transforming your production towards a flexible system means not just acting on the insertion of robots, but also varying numerous internal resources for the realization of the finished product, including:

Quality and process stability
– Production time
– Safety
Energy required
– Type of plant management
– Amount of raw materials
Production space

Flexible automation employs autonomisation where the machines allow different ranges of variation without this affecting the conversion costs. The introduction of robotics in the company can thus indicate a largely positive implication, especially as regards the production costs.

In this type of production, the โ€œbasicโ€ products are in low volumes because the customization variants increase considerably compared to a standard series production.

Main advantages

Flexible automation allows a good elasticity and adaptability to market demands thanks to its production conversion capacity. Products maintain a high quality with always very low unit costs.

Differences with rigid automation

Rigid automation employs flow automatism; this means that the production line is made up of operating machines and means of handling that perform only a certain task repeated over time and each machine is inserted on the line, according to its processing, with a fixed and preset order.

Therefore, the system will carry out only a certain production cycle, the one for which it was designed. All this allows to perform a very high number of production cycles autonomously and with substantial repetitions. Thanks to this system, unit costs become very much lower, while ensuring high quality.

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