Manufacturers are facing more challenges than ever thanks to supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and increased costs on just about everything—just to name a few.
The key to overcoming these obstacles and paving your way forward may be within reach. Here are some of the top reasons why you should explore automating your operation today.
1) Lower operating costs
Yes, adding robotics and automation costs money. What managers often don’t see is the increased speed of throughput, higher production output, fewer production stops and lower labor costs that automated processes can bring. Automation’s ability to lower costs can help manufacturers achieve a higher ROI overall.
2) Streamline supply chain and inventory management
Automation is well-suited for logistics operations. From connected warehouses and robotics to AI and big data, automation enables higher levels of productivity and efficiency. By taking over the most repetitive, physically demanding tasks, automation can help save employees from burnout. This has been proven in warehouses where automation has kept employee turnover rates below the 36 percent standard measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3) Increase consistency and quality
This means lower costs, too. For example, a properly programmed robot will produce the same product or execute the same task over and over, without pauses or scheduled breaks. Robots don’t get tired or bored, so the quality on job #500 will be the same as on job #1. This also creates a reliable system that can keep working while humans are at lunch, on break or tending to other operational needs, minimizing downtime overall.
As a result, there will be fewer problems with quality (we all know how much time a quality glitch can take!) and fewer scrapped parts. Automation is a reliable solution that you can count on to get the job done right, every time.
4) Leverage data for informed decision-making
The abundance of data available to manufacturing organizations today is at once exhilarating—and overwhelming. The insights that can be garnered from this information are invaluable for optimizing processes and making smarter, more efficient choices across the board. However, many manufacturers don’t have the time or resources to mine their data.
Automated solutions like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), real-time monitoring tools, and even IoT-enabled robotics can help manufacturing companies make significant progress toward achieving data maturity. They can also harness the benefits that their unique data holds.
5) Get ahead of maintenance
Predictive maintenance allows manufacturers to get ahead of issues before they arise. Building on the foundation of condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance aims to enhance equipment performance and extend its lifespan through continuous assessments. Using sensor data and analytical techniques like machine learning, predictive maintenance not only recognizes and resolves current issues but also forecasts potential future equipment conditions, effectively mitigating risks.
6) Reduce environmental impact
Automation enhances productivity and quality for manufacturers while also offering significant environmental benefits. By reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste and emissions, and improving overall efficiency, automated processes contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing industry.
7) Create a safer workplace
Employee safety is paramount. Accidents on the production line can have a catastrophic—and potentially tragic—impact. Today, you can automate more dangerous tasks, keeping your workers out of harm’s way and removing the potential for accidents altogether. Plus, a safer workplace is a lower-cost workplace. Avoid costs related to production stoppage, lost time and lost output in addition to the time and money it takes to find and train a new worker while your employee recovers.
8) Increase employee satisfaction
Historically, the standard misconception that automation eliminates workers has caused employees to fear and distrust it. But today, many experienced manufacturers tout the benefits. That’s because automation can help eliminate the “DDD” (dirty, dull and dangerous) jobs that workers don’t typically enjoy.
By implementing automation, you enable your employees to focus on more rewarding jobs. Jobs where human skills can make a bigger difference, such as fine motor coordination, creativity, critical thinking, planning and engaging with customers. This also opens the door for additional upskilling and skill-enhancement opportunities, which helps to improve your workforce’s capabilities and enables career development.
Plus, any increased labor costs will be more than offset by the boosted production and decreased lost time. And the bonus: You’ll be more likely to attract better, more skilled workers to your plant.
Explore additional ways that automation can strengthen your workforce.
9) Innovate more
Automation empowers manufacturing companies to shift their focus toward innovation. By automating routine operations (think: assembly, quality control, data processing, etc.) companies can free up valuable intellectual resources to perform higher-level thinking.
This additional bandwidth allows employees to delve into research and development, explore new product designs, refine manufacturing processes and embrace cutting-edge technologies. Automation also generates vast amounts of data that can be analyzed to identify opportunities for innovation and efficiency improvements, ensuring that manufacturing companies remain at the forefront while continuously driving growth.
10) Stay nimble
Automation can help you become a shock-proof operation. Automation provides adaptability and therefore the ability to cope with labor shortages, supply problems or surging demand. You’ll be able to take on new, bigger jobs and complete them faster—without boosting your headcount or operating footprint. You’ll also be more competitive, offering speedier delivery with lower costs.
11) Enable remote monitoring and control
Automating your monitoring and control processes allows for real-time visibility and operation, regardless of your physical location. This technology empowers manufacturers to proactively identify and address issues, optimize processes and make informed decisions remotely, reducing downtime and minimizing the need for on-site interventions. It also enhances operational efficiency, quality control and resource management while saving time and reducing costs associated with travel and site visits.
12) Operate all day, every day
Automation allows for round-the-clock operations which, for manufacturers, means increased production output, optimized resource utilization and enhanced competitiveness. Continuous operation also leads to improved productivity, cost-efficiency and quicker response to market demands, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
13) Gain a competitive advantage
In today’s fast-paced and dynamic manufacturing landscape, superior, reliable operational performance can give manufacturing companies a significant leg up. From streamlining production processes and reducing labor costs to improving product quality and allowing for greater flexibility in responding to changing marketing demands, automation enables higher levels of performance—and a competitive edge.
There’s no doubt that automation will play an integral role in the future of industrial manufacturing—and that the companies who adopt the technology now will be poised for future success. However, the ways that industrial automation will accelerate your unique operation are distinctive as well. It’s essential to work with reliable vendors and partners for long-term support.
By attending Automate, you can speak face-to-face with our industry-leading exhibitors to solve operational challenges, seize untapped opportunities and propel your business forward. Register free today and join us in Chicago, IL., USA, May 6–9, 2024.
For more case studies from A3 members on the benefits of automating processes and procedures, check out our “Why I Automate” series.
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