Robotic-based solutions are now being implemented in the functional testing of mobile devices. These solutions offer an automated processing capability for carriers and mobile device operators, to reduce the costs surrounding the testing of mobile phones that enter the reverse logistics supply chain.
With robots, device inspection is streamlined, helping to avoid a scenario where a refurbished phone isn’t rated correctly. Automating the process also increases objectivity and improves consistency for grading devices, which is particularly beneficial in the second-hand and refurbished devices market. If a robot grades a device as the highest possible rating, consumers can be assured they’re buying a product that fits the package description.
Of course one consistent argument that arises when talking about automation is its impact on the jobs market. However, what automation can, and indeed does, actually do is to remove the repetitive nature of certain jobs on the assembly line traditionally done by human workers and free their time up for less menial tasks. In addition, small hardware automation systems can aid in terms of keeping production in existing ‘home’ factories rather than moving operations offshore because of labour costs.
Lights out manufacturing can be expensive to implement and it doesn’t happen overnight. Automation comes in three phases: ‘Do it better’, ‘Do it more’, and ‘Do it for less’. The Do it better phase limits human touch, reducing the risk of error and shifting resources to more strategic initiatives.
Large-scale manufacturing and forward logistics sectors have enjoyed the fruits of hardware automation for some 30 years. However, the cost, variables and complexities within the reverse logistics market (product returns/trade-ins/upgrades) have prevented truly successful automation within these environments until much more recently.
Small automation solutions now enable any Third-Party Logistics (3PL) providers to invest in smaller increments and begin to see returns in a much shorter time than traditional large-scale hardware automation offerings. Modularity and scalability are what will drive automation into the future.