Modern industrial robots were ushered onto manufacturing floors in 1961, when Unimate joined the General Motors workforce. Unimate was essentially a 4,000-pound arm attached to a giant steel drum and performed tasks that were both dangerous and boring for humans.
Now 50 years later, more technologically advanced robots are used for domestic purposes, as well as industrial. As consumers we buy something, a smartphone for instance, and we start using it. Do any of us think about the manufacturing process behind the product? Design engineers do. They must take the assembly of products into consideration during the design phase because once the product goes to manufacturing the costs of changing the design are substantial. Therefore, design engineers rely on guidelines such as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) for guidance when designing a product. But as the pace of automation increases and robots assist on the manufacturing floor, trying to have a robot assemble a product using manual guidelines is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and, until recently, no guidelines existed for Designing for Automated Assembly (DFAA).
Edward Sermanoukian, lead mechanical engineer in Jabil’s Value Engineering group, has written one of the first sets of guidelines for designing for automated assembly (DFAA). One interesting outcome of these guidelines is that products design for automated assembly can also be used for manual assembly but not the other way around.
Read the full article and the design guidelines for Automatic Assembly.