By Subhash Kumar Agarwal, President, Technical Operations (Greenpanel Industries
Technological advancements that once seemed to be a far-fetched goal are today driving our lives and forming the core foundation of business operations. Over the course of time, digitisation and digitalisation have emerged as recent trends impacting various industries.
Manufacturers are embracing
AI and automation to enhance operational efficiency, performance and productivity.
Automation has become a buzzword in the manufacturing industry, ensuring improved quality of operations and reduced cost and has truly revolutionised the MDF market. However, various misconceptions surround this transformative technology. Let us debunk some of the myths and share the reality –
Myth: Automation is expensive for manufacturers
A common myth about automation is that it requires manufacturers to allocate significant budgets. While it’s partially true that large-scale automation systems can be costly, what goes unnoticed is that many automation solutions can be tailored to the needs, budgets and requirements of small and medium-sized manufacturers. Hence, manufacturers of any scale can initiate their automation journey by focusing on specific tasks that can yield quick and high returns on investment. Eventually, with time, they can scale up their automation efforts as and when required and till the time their budget allows.
With benefits like improved performance, enhanced efficiency and seamless operations, the ROI of businesses with automation is high.
Myth: Automation is a one-size-fits-all solution
In reality, automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one market and manufacturing process may not be suitable for another. For example, in the MDF industry, the production process involves various stages, from wood fiber preparation to pressing and finishing. And each of these stages requires different types of automation technologies, such as robotics, conveyor systems, or quality control sensors. Hence, it is imperative manufacturers evaluate their unique needs and processes to be automated to determine the most effective automation solutions.
Myth: Automation is only for mass production
It is a common notion that automation is associated with mass production. But the fact of the matter is this new-age technology is beneficial for small-scale manufacturing as well. In the MDF industry, automation can be integral. The solution comes with a promise of customised and flexible operations. Hence, small-scale manufacturers can reconfigure automated systems to accommodate different product specifications and production runs.
This enables them to have an edge in the market by offering customised solutions to meet customers’ diverse demands.
Automation is integral in the MDF manufacturing industry
Automation has truly disrupted the manufacturing industry, transforming the nature of work and carving the path for creating new opportunities and challenges. Right from blending the raw materials to pressing the MDF sheets, automated systems have found their way into the MDF manufacturing industry. In fact, the technology also has applications in finishing tasks such as sanding, painting, and laminating, further improving the appearance and durability of MDF products.
It plays an integral role in raw material handling, thereby reducing manual labor and improving safety. Automated cutting and shaping machines have helped improve the precision of MDF board production, leading to smoother edges and reduced resource wastage. Additionally, robotics and conveyor systems are used for material handling, reducing the risk of worker injuries and ensuring continuous flow of materials throughout the production process. Quality control sensors and cameras enabled by automation help detect defects in real-time, allowing for immediate corrective measures and ensuring only high-quality products reach the customers.
Automation technologies like robotic arms have seamlessly taken over the responsibility of loading and unloading raw materials, pressing MDF sheets, and finishing MDF products. Additionally, machine vision systems can further be used to inspect MDF products for defects, such as cracks, knots, and voids.
To sum up
Automation can be a powerful tool to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve product quality in the manufacturing sector. Hence, its implementation must be carefully planned to optimise its benefit for your business. The transition to automation in the manufacturing industry requires setting realistic expectations. The first step is to identify the goals that you wish to achieve as an outcome with the technology. This will help you select the right tools that meet your needs and budget.
Automation as a new-age solution won’t replace skilled human labor but will act as their assistant and will reduce their workload. In fact, it is an opportunity for manufacturers to improve their manufacturing capabilities and profitability. It is projected the rapid adoption of automation will lead to accelerated growth of the MDF industry in the times to come since it is a raw material produced in fully automated plants.