Intelligent automation • Software-defined manufacturing • Viewpoints

10 Reasons to Abandon Traditional Approaches to Production

By Justine Crosby, Bright Machines

Because automation is not new to factories, manufacturers often group all automation solutions into the same bucket – historically defined by costly, inflexible machines that take months to build and deploy. But Bright Machines’ unique approach to factory automation makes it a smarter automation solution, and one that is particularly relevant today as supply chains are strained from the pandemic, and manufacturers seek out new ways to make production lines more resilient.  

Here are the ten fundamental “Bright Differences” we offer the industry:  

1. Software-defined

While software in factories isn’t new, it has previously been inconsistent and required manual programming across machines. Our automation approach is software-first, meaning that an intelligent software layer is woven throughout the assembly and inspection hardware. Bright Machines Microfactories are designed to be configured, controlled, and continuously improved by the software.  

2. Cost-effective

Old school automation is characterized by high upfront costs coupled with a lengthy capital expense procurement process. With our Select microfactory-as-a-service model, you pay as you go – similar to how you would pay wages to workers. Previously manufacturers had to wait two or three years to see a return on investment, but with Select, the savings are realized immediately.  

3. Faster time to deployment

Typically, it can take 12 months to deploy an automation solution, and this step of the process is dependent on the product design reaching completion. Because our approach involves a software layer, engineers can configure components while the product is still in the design phase. As a result, deployment time is reduced to 3-6 months.  

4. Flexible 

Our microfactories are made up of production-ready building blocks, which can be reconfigured with a quick changeover from one product to another. Now you can repurpose, not recycle your factory automation robots. If your product variation needs change, the microfactory can be easily reconfigured to meet new demands. This isn’t a typical hardware automation solution, which is highly customized and can only be used towards a single product. This is a core differentiator from the custom one-use equipment served by old school automation. 

5. Scalable

Fast and flexible automation is of limited value without scale or duplicating across other manufacturing sites. With all of today’s pressing challenges, scalability is crucial – how can we get critical medical devices in the hands of doctors in high-risk areas of the world if we can’t scale, for example? Standardized components of our microfactories allow manufacturers to add cells to increase capacity or copy an exact line to create a duplicate at any site in the world. 

6. Remote management 

By managing assembly lines remotely, factories are more resilient to external disruptions. Uptime and OEE are improved due to error handling, calibration, customized alerts, and remote monitoring capabilities. Users can implement error recovery routines directly at the recipe level giving the microfactory the intelligence to recover on its own from previously experienced failure modes. 

7. Simplified

Our easy to use user interface allows assembly lines to be quickly configured without any programming required. Team members can collaborate remotely to develop recipes offline, enabling iterative developments and results in faster initial deployments, and quicker line changeovers and line repurposing. As a result of this flexibility, you can efficiently react and respond to changes in demand. 

8. Low risk

Hardware-intensive lines are full of risk, primarily due to their lack of reliability. If custom equipment breaks, you’ll face long downtimes as you scramble to source extra parts or maintenance workers to perform the necessary fixes. Meanwhile, our standardized machines can easily be swapped for another without highly skilled maintenance workers to complete the task or a massive inventory of spare parts.  

9. Virtual design & planning 

Because our microfactories are driven by intelligent software, they allow for offline configuration and programming, giving you a head start on recipe creation. Virtualized design and planning means lines can be programmed and activated from anywhere on the network with the added benefit of collaborating virtually with distributed team members. 

10. Hardware agnostic

Our software not only has built-in support for Bright Machines hardware, but it also includes a device wizard to quickly add third-party hardware.

Bright Machines Microfactories combine the best of previous manual labor and hardware-centric approaches to automation while filling the gaps left by each to provide a completely scalable automation solution that is continuously improving. Some of the world’s top manufacturers developing cutting-edge products have selected Bright Machines’ flexible and scalable solution to produce more units per hour, at a higher quality, lower cost, and lower financial risk than other automation solutions.  

Are you interested in exploring Bright Machines’ fundamentally different approach to automation for your factory? Contact us today.  


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