More and more manufacturers make use of equipment and smart digital tools to reduce costs, drive greater throughput, reduce human error, and essentially increase productivity. This is known as manufacturing automation.
Some research suggests that factories fully relying on automation can triple production compared with those that do not use automation or have only a few systems in place. Machines have the ability to work faster, continuously, and without errors, while software offers data necessary to make better decisions. Automation is key to lean manufacturing, low costs, and more profits
The threat of job loss might make one reluctant toward adopting digital technology. While a number of jobs are expected to be eliminated because of robotics and automation, a significant number will be added, resulting in a positive net gain.
Many companies that fully adopted automation see tremendous results and would never go back. The initial investment pays off and enables modern manufacturers to gain a competitive edge. It is now clear that companies can no longer afford to doubt adopting automation — they need to be aggressive.
In this article we five ways manufacturers can automate their production to stay ahead of their competitors.
1. Adopt robotics and software automation
Factory workers could better focus their efforts on high-level and meaningful tasks, if the simple and repetitive ones are left to be handled by robots quickly, precisely, and error-free. For example, robots could load materials into machines, pack finished goods, and label them before moving them along in the production process.
In addition to robotics automation, manufacturers can also implement software for production-related tasks that are too difficult or complex for humans to perform effectively. Manufacturing software helps to control inventory from raw materials to finished goods, effectively manage production, scheduling, and resource allocation in one place, and track shop-floor operations. Moreover, modern software integrates with existing business essentials like accounting software, e-commerce platforms, or shipping tools making it easy to control the entire factory from a single point of truth.
2. Improve inter- and intra-departmental communication
Generally, adopting automation implies assistance from your IT department because it requires changes to existing system infrastructure. It is advisable to involve your IT specialists in order to avoid costly mistakes and delays, as well as to ensure that the company’s existing technology can support the automation project in question.
Automation can release human workers from certain tasks, prone to human error. Use self-checkout kiosks, cash register checkout, automation software, customer service robots to handle routine calls and chats with customers. Machines can be used for those mundane, repetitive tasks. This way your human employees can focus on high-priority, strategic tasks that require creativity, human touch and experience.
3. Focus on Quality and Sustainability
It’s crucial for manufacturers to track production quality in detail. Monitor errors, find out which areas of the production process are problematic, and which automation tools make the biggest impact on improving overall quality. This will enable you to make informed decisions about automation and move forward next.
The purpose of any automation project is to cut costs and increase sustainability, worker safety, and overall efficiency. If automation helps your production systems become more sustainable, you’re certainly headed in the right direction.
Adopting automation strategies and investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) can help manufacturers gain a competitive position. Higher production rates, increased productivity, efficient use of materials, better product quality, improved worker safety, and reduced factory lead times are a few of the benefits automation brings in the manufacturing landscape. Most companies that choose to join the digital revolution see their investment pay off.