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Economic analysis of Robots
In addition to the technological considerations involved in applications engineering for a robotics project, there is also the economic issue.
Will the robot justify itself economically? The economic analysis for any proposed engineering project is of considerable importance in most companies because management
usually decides whether to install the project on the basis of this analysis.
To perform the economic analysis of a proposed robot project, certain basic information is needed about the project. This information includes the type of project being considered, the cost of the robot installation, the production cycle time, and the savings and
benefits resulting from the project.
Type of Robot Installation:
There are two basic categories of robot installations that are commonly encountered. The first involves a new application. This is where there is no existing facility.
The second situation is the robot installation to replace a current method of operation.
The present method typically involves a production operation that is performed manually, and the robot would be used somehow to substitute for the human labor.
In either of these situations, certain basic cost information is needed in order to perform the economic analysis.
The following subsection discusses the kinds of cost and operating data that are used to analyze the alternative investment projects.
Cost Data Required for the Analysis
The cost data required to perform the economic analysis of a robot project divide into two types: investment costs and operating costs.
1. Robot purchase cost—The basic price of the robot equipped from the manufacturer with the
proper options (excluding end effector) to perform the application.
2. Engineering costs— The costs of planning and desig engineering staff to install the robot.
3. Installation costs— This includes the labor and materials needed to prepare the installation site (provision for utilities, floor preparation, etc.).
4. Special tooling— This includes the cost of the end eflector, parts position and other fixtures and tools required to operate the work cell,
5. Miscellaneous costs—This covers the additional investment costs not included by any of the above categories (e.g., other equipment needed for the cell).
Operating costs and savings:
6. Direct labor cost—The direct labor cost associated with the operation of the robot cell. Fringe benefits are usually included in the calculation of direct labor rate, but other overhead costs are excluded.
7. Indirect labor cost—The indirect labor costs that can be directly allocated to thc operation of the robot cell. These costs include supervision, setup, programming, and other personnel costs not included in category 6 above
8. Maintenance—This covers the anticipated costs of maintenance and repair for the robot cell. These costs are included under this separate heading rather than in category 7 because the maintenance costs involve not only indirect labor (the maintenance crew) but also materials (replacement parts) and service calls by the robot manufacturer. A reasonable of thumb‖ in the absence of better da robot will be approximately 10 percent of the purchase price (category I).
9. Utilities—this includes the cost of utilities to operate the robot cell (e.g., electricity, air pressure, gas). These are usually minor costs compared to the above items.
10. Training—Training might be considered to be an investment cost because much of the training required for the installation will occur as a first cost of the installation. However, training should he a continuing activity, and so it is included as an operating cost.
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