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Industrial Automation Keeps Manufacturing Working

Whether you’re an automotive manufacturer, precision watchmaker or need to pack thousands of packages, automation can deliver the speed, safety and accuracy you need to succeed. It’s easy to see the advantages of CNCs and industrial robots. After all, they have been around for decades. In recent years, however, innovations have made them more flexible, easier to use, and affordable than ever. That means that no matter how big or small your business may be, FANUC has automation solutions that can improve your company’s productivity and profits.

Factory automation used to be limited to all-in-one systems that required special builds and extensive investments. But today’s advantages of automation are clear. Modern manufacturing processes must be nimble, and industrial solutions and industrial robotics have evolved for easy updates. That means that instead of mammoth installations, a series of industrial robot and CNC applications work throughout the production or manufacturing process, often fitting within existing factories and footprints.

Today’s large and small manufacturers trust FANUC CNC systems, robotics and factory automation systems. With more than 50 years of experience, FANUC understands how to help businesses develop automated solutions that result in less downtime, increased productivity, better support in downstream production and delivering on targeted production goals.


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What Is Industrial Automation?

Industrial automation relies on machines to complete work quickly, repeatedly and without the need for manual processes such as pushing buttons or flipping switches. The old-school automation strategy was usually an all-or-nothing proposition. Facilities had to invest in large machines that handled one part of the process, sometimes connecting those machines via a complex system of conveyors. Any changes in the production process were left behind. People ran these machines, calibrating them to ensure accuracy and complete quality control. If any part of the process could not be replicated with the existing technology of pulleys, rollers, conveyor belts, extruders and molds, people were needed to complete the process. In this era, automation challenges were speed, manpower and accuracy. These kinds of limitations posed severe limits to growth and change.

Now when we ask, “What is industrial automation?”, we’re discussing the kind of flexible automation applications that provide industrial solutions and allow companies to automate in ways that make sense for their business. The advantages of automation of this kind include building in stages. Businesses can now bring in industrial robots and factory automation to take over tasks and processes as needed, when and where they can add the most value. Another part to the advantages of automation is that you can now combine people, automation and existing automated processes together in unprecedented combinations.

Automated system examples can include collaborative robots (or cobots) that work side-by-side with employees, handling heavy lifting or tasks that may lead to repetitive stress injuries. Unlike traditional robots of the past, cobots do not need cages and stop safely when coming into contact with people or objects, preventing injuries. These kinds of cobot applications combine the strength and mechanical accuracy of a cobot while humans bring more flexibility, intelligence and sensitivity.

CNC technology is also a critical part of many factory automation strategies. FANUC’s industry-leading 52-year Mean-Time-Between-Failure (MTBF) ensures that machine tools with FANUC controls experience less downtime and produce more parts. Cutting-edge CNC and motion control systems can be used for both high-repetition commodity production and high-precision, advanced-machining techniques.

As industrial robots become more prevalent, entire parts of the production process can now be handled by combining robots with AGV systems and CNC machines. From material loading at the front end to palletizing robots when the product is ready to ship, industrial robots can now increase safety, productivity and efficiency, showcasing the advantages of automation at every stage of production.


Get the most out of all of your manufacturing processes.
Contact us today to speak with an automation expert.

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Types of Automation

The term “industrial automation” covers thousands of types of robots, CNCs and factory automation solutions. They’re placed into groups here, but even within each area, almost endless customizations and combinations make it possible to apply automation applications to your processes.

  • CNC Milling

    Combined with FANUC integrated drive system hardware, CNC controls support smart adaptive processing algorithms using AI smart contour control controlling functions such as nano-smoothing, quality level selection, mass block look-ahead, learning control, axis acceleration and jerk control.

    Paramount to supporting these AI functions are FANUC’s integrated high-response vector drives utilizing high-speed optical communications matched with fine-tuned machine drive optimization. FANUC’s high resolution servo motor position feedback supports up to 32-million-counts-per-revolution feedback, making it possible to realize ultra-fine precision machining with nano-resolution positioning.

  • CNC General Motion Control

    CNC General Motion Control offers up to 32 axes of high-performance motion control with the ability to maintain up to 24 axes of simultaneous interpolation. Axis motion can be controlled by position, speed or torque, resulting in support for many industrial general motion solutions, including presses, stamping machines, loaders, wire saw, winding and filling machines.

  • CNC Turning

    In common with milling applications, smart AI functions are available to support complex turning applications. FANUC turning controls are available with up to 10 separate machining paths supporting 32 axes of motion. Our turning controls are useful on complex machines with hybrid milling and turning stations, realizing single setup with features that improve the efficiency of your threading, grinding and even high-precision Swiss-type turning.

  • Complex Machining

    Unusual shapes and hard-to-machine metals both demand advanced technologies. FANUC’s complex machining resources feature programmable automation features and compensation functions to support feature programming to provide exceptional control of processes and tolerances down to the nanometer level. Additionally, bespoke HMI displays can be applied by the OEM to develop value-added intuitive custom screens for custom Hybrid machining processes.

  • Laser Cutting

    FANUC integrated CO2 and Diode Pumped Fiber laser systems feature the latest laser technology, with operation frequency up to 32 kHz and Continuous Wave (CW) power output level up to 12 kW. FANUC Fiber Lasers seamlessly integrate onto a common CNC Optical servo position command bus ensuring the tightest match of laser power to axis position. Your laser cutting machine design can be configured to a range of processes, from high-speed fly sheet metal cutting down to plate processing up to 32mm (1¼-inches) thick.

    FANUC integrated CO2 and Diode Pumped Fiber laser systems feature the latest laser technology with operation frequency up to 32 kHz and Continuous Wave (CW) power output level up to 12 kW. FANUC Fiber Lasers seamlessly integrate onto a common CNC Optical servo position command bus ensuring the tightest match of laser power to axis position. Your laser cutting machine design can be configured to a range of processes, from high-speed fly sheet metal cutting down to plate processing up to 32 mm (1¼ inches) thick.

  • Material Removal

    Material removal applies to a variety of applications. Industrial robots offer exceptionally precise ways to quickly cut, grind, deburr, deflash, polish, waterjet cut, route and more.

  • Spot Welding and Arc Welding

    When you need industrial welding, select from arc welding or spot welding processes. First used decades ago as a tool for the automotive industry, welding robots now offer more advanced and efficient features to safely meet all your industrial welding needs.

  • Pick and Pack or Pick and Place

    Using robots is an efficient way to complete pick and pack or pick and place tasks as quickly as 2,000 items per minute on a line when used as part of a system. These kinds of industrial automation strategies greatly increase efficiency and eliminate the risk of repetition injuries to employees such as back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

  • Machine Tending

    Most manufacturers continue to need large machines such as forges, presses and injection molding machines. Industrial automation advances mean you can now use robotics to operate and monitor these parts of your process. Machine tending showcases the advantages of automation testing. FANUC robots and software not only connect the equipment but are able to test and improve the throughput and overall equipment effectiveness.

  • Big and Small Part Transfer and Palletizing

    Your business may have very small parts and packages to move or palletize or the parts may be very large. FANUC offers a wide range of robotic part transfer and palletizing solutions that can move parts from 0.5 kg up to 2,300 kg in payload.

  • Assembly, Painting, Dispensing and Sealing

    Automation flexibility means that manufacturers are now able to find ways to optimize workflow through iterative processes such as painting, assembly, dispensing and sealing. They are free to find ways to increase capacity and produce a broader range of products by eliminating the automation challenges of a fixed production line. Adding intelligent features such as integrated 2D and 3D iRVision and force sensing further increases the capabilities of the assembly process. If your products require adhesives, dispensing robots can accurately affix sealants in ways that decrease the production timeline.

  • Robot and CNC Integrators

    From automotive to robot integrators and Industrial Robotics: Examples

    You will find that automation exists in all kinds of companies and throughout almost every industry. In the automotive industry, industrial robots have a long history of improving quality and lowering costs. A manufacturer can handle especially dangerous tasks with welding robots, and ensure a particulate-free coating process using paint robots. On the assembly line, workers might put door insulation in place, and a collaborative robot then presses it firmly into place.

    More examples of the application of automation in industries exist in the aerospace industry, where the inspection process is critical. Tight tolerances mean inspections must meet exacting standards. Several inspection procedures can be performed by robots using laser scanners that can detect minute inconsistencies.

    Many industrial robot examples can be seen in CPG factories, where FANUC delta robots have been picking and packing for years. Recent innovation includes the use of robots to ice cakes, even piping hand-drawn decorations onto cakes in a conveyor line.

    Produce processors come to FANUC to help with flexible automation that includes using articulated robots with gentle, flexible end-of-arm tooling to pack soft fruits like apples and cucumbers into crates.

    In the U.S. Department of Treasury, tracking money is crucial. Industrial robot applications include palletizing robots that weigh currency packs precisely, within a fraction of an ounce, to protect against theft. The pallets are then weighed again by material handling robots that load them into sealed shipping containers.

    In the pharmaceutical industry, applications of industrial automation can be seen in delta robots that singulate bottles as they unpack them and place them onto an assembly line. They can also remove light, flexible packets from the line and pack them into boxes. Bottle sizes or box sizes often change in this industry, which means manufacturing applications vary significantly. Through the flexibility of FANUC robots, the robots can be reprogrammed to accommodate changes quickly and easily.

    In die and mold industries, automated system examples include using deburring robots that finish metal pieces and smooth away any irregularities. Material removal robots can help with cutting, grinding, deflashing, polishing, waterjet cutting, routering and more.

    For more examples of the application of automation in industries, look to construction. Stacking heavy panels of drywall or pallets of lumber used to be slow, heavy work. Today, FANUC supplies heavy-duty palletizing robots that make it possible to stack even very large objects into predetermined configurations.

    In watchmaking, industrial robots are focused on precision. Internal watch works must be exactly cut and precisely fit together. The applications of industrial automation include combining the right robots with FANUC CNC programming to help watch manufacturers produce exceptional quality and consistency, offering the highest levels of precision on even the smallest parts.

    No matter which industry you represent or which manufacturing applications you’re working with, you’ll find intelligent automation solutions from FANUC that meet or exceed your expectations for customization, ease of use, efficiency, reliability and safety.

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