For example, a robot can perform the same movement over and over without a break to prevent repetitive stress injury. Robots can also perform some dangerous tasks without requiring the precautions a human would need. Note any efficiencies gained with the robotic cell.

Would the robotic cell be able to exchange necessary information?

Are operators in the manual process using handwritten notes or instructions? What happens in a changeover? Look for steps in the manual task map that affect information flow. Underestimating the complexity or scope of the required information flow can cause project delays. This is also an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate which information is necessary.

Is extraneous information included from an old legacy process? Be sure that all information provides value. Before looking at how the information will be exchanged, carefully define what information needs to be exchanged.

In addition to the information needed to execute the cell tasks, a robotic cell can provide extra maintenance, quality, and tracking information. Evaluate the potential data-gathering ability of the robotic cell to take advantage of the opportunity for automating part of your continuous improvement process.

All stakeholders should have input in this evaluation so that they understand how the robotic cell can provide information that couldn’t be captured efficiently or accurately in the manual cell.

After completing the evaluation process once, go back and see how the answers to different questions will affect each other. For example, adding monitoring to the robotic cell may not affect the cell KPIs, but could provide huge benefits to maintenance and overall productivity.

The evaluation process outlined in the Lean Robotics book will allow you to refine your concept of the minimum viable robotic cell and decide whether or not it makes sense to deploy. For more information about designing a robotic cell and reducing uncertainty in your lean robotics project, visit leanrobotics.org.

This article was republished with permission from Robotiq.