During an interview on IMTSTV, Don Peters, Managing Director at Lincoln Electric, maintained that automation is the key to saving small manufacturers in the U.S.

Automation is not just for automakers anymore. Given the lower cost of robots and their increased efficiency, automation is now an option for almost all manufacturers, regardless of their size or industry.

Automation technology has advanced alongside computing, becoming increasingly faster and more reliable. Peters noted that while automakers have long taken advantage of these improved technologies, other manufacturers have been slow to adopt them—largely because of fear or misunderstanding.

Automation is so much more than simply applying a robot to a single part or function. To truly leverage the advantages of automation, manufacturers need to enlist expert assistance to automate the complete process, Peters explained. With the help of an integrator who understands automation, companies can automate their entire process and make operations more productive and less expensive.

Since smaller manufacturers do not have the high production volumes found in automotive plants, it is critical that they focus on flexibility in automation. Companies that are ready to automate will find that the costs of robots have come down significantly, as computer chips and controlling devices have become less expensive and more efficient. Ultimately, almost every manufacturer has the opportunity to automate, Peters concluded.

For more information about exciting developments in automation as well as preparing for the future of the digital factory, plan to attend the [MC]2 Conference in Dallas, Texas on April 19 – 21, 2016.