There are many books out there that cover this.Affordable Automation
, for example, is one that I recommend (and its really cheap, too).
Are there a set of rules or guidelines that can be applied when deciding if a manufacturing process can benefit from being robotised?
The best way to do this is sit down and do a cost analysis. The general rule of thumb is that it depends on how much of the product you plan to manufacture:
1 item -> 10 items -> 100 items -> 1000 items
human -> tool assisted human -> robot -> dedicated machine
Its easier to replace humans if:
- you retrain them to become skilled robot operators
- your employees aren't members of a union
And I think many investors would be happier with the bottom line . . .
If your company can't compete with other companies, the employees will lose their jobs anyway . . .