Four wonderful benefits of subassemblies in manufacturing automation

  • Articles
  • Mar 17,23
Subassembly manufacturing lets designers insert a single blueprint for most of a product, and automation can administer process improvement updates with minimal interference. Subassembly sets a precedent for manufacturers to create more sustainable blueprints that consider the entire process, says Emily Newton.
Four wonderful benefits of subassemblies in manufacturing automation

Manufacturing automation will solidify the sector in Industry 4.0. Subassembly manufacturing will compound these, providing never-before-seen efficiency and productivity boons to a field still recovering from years of supply chain disruptions and legacy technology. Making things easier to assemble and take apart will streamline production, saving countless dollars and hours in unoptimised resources.

1. Scalability
Planners will see this benefit immediately from the planning stage. Designers go into blueprints to maximize materials and rigs, so the plan comes with short manufacturing times and low cost estimates. Manufacturers have a lot of room to expand and manipulate facets of the subassembly to meet expectations if drafts don't appeal to clients.

It’s also scalable from a contractor’s perspective. An outfit specialising in subassemblies can choose work that fits within its materials, machine specialties or retrofits, allowing manufacturers to specialise for sectors and sub-niches more deeply.

Scaling and manufacturing automation work hand-in-hand. Changes to the blueprint need only be programmed. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can converge with operational tech to gather analytics about efficiency improvements to pitch to stakeholders and business partners. These resources allow the subassemblies to constantly improve from a practical level and scale with incoming technologies without excessive budget strains.

2. Supply chain and vendor consolidation
Subassemblies help consolidation in countless ways, from reducing material use to simplifying incoming engineers’ curricula and internal training programs. These simplifications amount to a supply chain that weeds out unnecessary steps, increasing resilience against the most imminent threats to production, like raw material shortages or third-party stops.

Engineers’ and production line workers’ roles will shift, involving more oversight and enhanced perspectives over whole projects instead of micro-specialties. These shifts benefit employees and companies because they will assist consolidation by mitigating staffing shortages and finding experts for specialised parts. 

Supply chain diversity often brings assets to manufacturers, but that doesn’t mean more is always better. Production lines must focus on consolidation for business longevity and continuity. Fewer suppliers mean strengthened B2B relationships and greater accountability between parties to adopt manufacturing automation and best subassembly manufacturing practices simultaneously. 

Vendors and third parties in a supply chain may discover they can fashion more components than they realize. A company could specialise in ball-bearing slides and be able to create unique offerings for more comprehensive subassembly components by expanding its scope. The fewer suppliers responsible for niche parts equates to faster production, and the supply chain becomes more cohesive production-wise and with communications.

3. Testing consistency
Subassemblies mean more uniformity between individual units, leaving less room for mistakes, both mechanically and via human error. When testing a product, such as a vehicle, tracking manufacturing defects is easier when fewer parts are in a bill of materials from unique providers. Additionally, each subassembly covers more surface area in a product. Manufacturers can better troubleshoot the production of a car or space shuttle if it’s easier to identify the project in sizable chunks than individual circuit boards or wires.

It is easier to identify issues with subassemblies and provides a more relevant testing control group when the parts are inherently more consistent and fewer influencing factors can increase variables. Fewer issues arise when manufacturers eliminate testing variables from the equation by consolidating suppliers and using premade subassemblies. 

These side effects increase customer satisfaction because products are more durable, reliable and valuable. Companies garner better reputations because subassembly manufacturing provides ideal testing and quality control environments. 

4. Sustainability
From a macro lens, having entire facilities create minuscule parts generates excessive waste and carbon emissions. Customers will not appreciate a manufacturer’s lack of eco-awareness if a product requires 20 different operations, including transportation and raw material extraction. Coupling subassembly manufacturing and automation can transform the industry into a more environmentally-friendly enterprise via analytics gathering and reducing energy and material waste.

Warehouses in manufacturing have overstock, production lines discard defective products and line stops due to technological inadequacies result in energy loss. Subassembly reduces materials used and provides greater consistency, meaning fewer employees are needed to adjust for niche products. The lines are more honed for an easier-to-assemble asset, empowering employees by more efficiently repairing machines, parsing analytics gathered from IIoT sensors and minimising pollution and waste.

Subassembly sets a precedent for manufacturers to create more sustainable blueprints that consider the entire process. The design must regard uptime on the line that releases air pollutants, components with the greatest likelihood to warp because of antiquated robotics, and packaging standards that too frequently waste tape or damage pallets. These are only a few examples of how unsustainable regular assembly manufacturing lines can be.

Maximising subassembly manufacturing and automation
Subassembly manufacturing lets designers insert a single blueprint for most of a product, and automation can administer process improvement updates with minimal interference. Supply chains can eliminate many woes that plague operational budgets and staffing stress, like high-cost raw materials or unpredictable process order schedules. This allows companies to work to their fullest potential.

About the author:
Emily Newton is a tech and industrial journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily.

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