Labour costs can form a major part of the factory cost of a product. In particular, assembly labour costs per product can account for well over half of the total labour costs.
Assembly is the final labour intensive manufacturing process to be
conquered by the automation engineer. The comparatively high
factory cost caused by assembly labour points engineers to assembly
automation as an economic alternative to 'offshoring'. Assembly
automation not only gives tangible economic benefits. It also
gives other, less quantitative advantages. The added benefits are a
greater control over production, lower floor space requirements and
higher finished product quality levels. Exclusion of these less
quantifiable benefits can have a critical effect upon the economic
justification of an automatic assembly system.
Successful implementation of an automatic assembly system involves many
disciplines. Harmonizing of a product design and it's assembly system
is an iterative process. It relies upon co-operation between the
product designer, production engineer, cost accountant, and equipment
supplier. Product design changes requested by the production engineer
are created by the product designer and evaluated by the cost
accountant, for the effect on factory cost.