Here we are, in industry 4.0. The future of automation in the medical device industry is very much present. Robotics has been a huge factor in this evolution with a 12% increase in just 2 years. In this post, we’ll be exploring how this increase in robotics has impacted the medical device industry.
An efficient and cost-effective production line
Robotics give manufacturers a more streamlined production process by reducing waste both in time and resources. They have a wide range of applications within the industry throughout the whole process of manufacturing. Robotics can be used on the assembly line, during the inspection process and also useful in packaging.
Strict guidelines easily met
The medical device industry is very highly regulated, manufacturers have to adhere to extremely strict guidelines on expectations. Human error presents a real risk to the uniformity required and mistakes can cost time and money not to mention any risk to life if further error results in an incompetent inspection process.
Robotics offer a solution to this problem by providing identical replications of the same product within very restricted guidelines. This is a huge benefit of automation to the industry, the medical professionals and the public, who all deserve the best quality in medical devices. Of course, there is an additional impact to robotics on the production line, and some would say this has negative ramifications.
A smaller but more highly skilled workforce
With machines taking on roles previously held by people, a smaller workforce is inevitable. It is worth noting though, robotics do not automatically remove all human contribution, after all, these machines need to be programmed maintained and even fixed at times. There may be less people working on the shop floor but, those who are will often be higher paid and their skill set will be more sophisticated.
A safer space
Historically manufacturing jobs have been dangerous. With a wide variety of laws and regulations enforced over the years, factories become safer places for people to work. However, when working with machinery, there will always be an element of risk. Robotics allow a safer environment by completing the tasks that pose the greatest threat to humans.
A sterile environment
Another threat that humans pose in the medical device industry is contamination, a destruction to clean processes. When human input is reduced then the risk of contamination reduces also and the process remains sterile.
The UK Lags Behind
There has been some resistance to robotic systems in UK manufacturing of medical devices. On the global marketplace we are behind our international competitors. What is especially worrying is that many companies in the UK don’t even recognise robotics as a realistic part of their future. With changes to our political relationships on the international stage, it’s vital that we as a nation show a competitive edge in the industry. There are some businesses that are bucking this trend and leading the way.
Innomech specialises in the development and manufacturing of automation devices. If you’d like more information, or to find out how automation can help you, feel free to contact us.