Every industry experiences changes with the seasons. This includes manufacturing. During times when the need is low, manufacturing may slow down. Issues like holidays and flu season can lower production. Industrial automation is not immune to these changes that occur throughout the year. Though this form of industry lowers the need for personnel and the issues they may arise with a robust workforce, there are still seasonal changes that occur when manufacturing processes are automated.
Seasonal industries benefit from automated processes
Many industries base their entire workload around seasonal changes. Companies like those that focus on supplying goods and services for specific holidays are prime examples of those that do not need heavy production throughout the year. Industrial automation is ideal for these types of companies because the robotics do not have to be hired, retrained, made redundant or furloughed as seasonal shifts require greater and fewer processes.
The same is true for industries that focus on items that are in great need for only a short period of time. Barbecue grills are popular summer purchases. Therefore, production may be at its height in the winter and spring. Companies that produce outdoor recreation equipment, like swimming pool products or golfing gear, may find themselves in a similar situation.
Seasonal industries should not be confused with cyclical industries. Though cyclical industries also operate differently during times of high and low demand, the cycles are not necessarily created by the changing of the seasons. Cyclical industries are in high demand during times of economic prosperity. Samples of these types of businesses are construction, steel, and travel. These are sometimes thought of as leisure industries. They are items that can be set aside when the economy falters. Seasonal industries and cyclical industries may share common traits, but they are not the same. Still, the mechanical operation of cyclical industries is just as prone to problems from overly cold and overly hot conditions as all other forms of manufacturing.
Cold temperatures can cause issues with automation
An automation system will not have difficulty getting to work when the roads are ice-covered and not yet treated. Still, cold weather can cause delays in production you may not have previously anticipated. The most obvious issue is freezing. If automated parts are allowed to freeze, they will almost certainly fail. Likewise, batteries may lose their charge when they are exposed to cold weather. Seasonal changes that are not managed may cause the discharge to lead to an overall failure in the battery, which ultimately ends with a complete replacement.
Other issues arise when cold air and warm air mix. An industry that is allowed to become chilled should not be made immediately warm if there is any reliance on automated components. Moisture and condensation will amass on surfaces inside the plant. This includes electronic components. Condensation can lead to failure, which then slows or even stops production. A simple solution is to ensure the plant stays at a stable temperature throughout the year.
Warm air may cause problems with mechanics
Mechanical manufacturing performs best in cool, not cold, temperatures. Warm air may cause rapid deterioration of components. Heat can cause equipment to falter or completely stop functioning. As temperatures rise and days grow longer in the summer, it becomes more difficult to keep factory floors cool enough for optimal operations. Industries often find their utility bills increasing as they work diligently to cool the areas with the automated industrial equipment. Some companies may decide to scale back on the amount of automation they perform in the summer simply to save on the high cost of electricity.
Another way to manage warm weather issues without losing production is to invest in chillers, cooling towers and/or evaporative coolers. Smaller areas benefit from more basic methods, like leaving doors and windows open. As with cold weather, the best way to combat changes in automation due to seasonal variance is to keep temperatures consistent on the factory floor. This keeps mechanical equipment consistently healthy, which keeps production strong.