Automation is on every industry leader’s mind today. But many businesses are still in the dark about the real value of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and other automation technologies.
As the automation market continues to expand and advance, solutions are becoming more accessible to businesses of all sizes—large and small. Now, you can buy or rent turnkey automated solutions and effectively multiply your workforce overnight.
Whether it’s reducing workplace accidents, increasing productivity, or helping companies cope with labor shortages, here are some ways automation can strengthen your workforce and accelerate your success.
AUGMENTING EMPLOYEES’ CAPABILITIES
While machines and humans have worked together for centuries, the demand for precision and speed is making automation more important than ever—especially where manufacturing is concerned.
Technologies like CNC machining and 3D printing have helped fuel this need for accuracy in manufacturing. They also represent a clear trend towards increasing human-machine integration. While humans design and execute plans, easily programmable automated tools—such as Acieta’s FastLOAD CR2000 collaborative machine loading cell—can complement their critical thinking skills with unrivaled precision and reliability.
Beyond manufacturing, automation allows employees to do tasks that until recently seemed impossible for machines, such as decorating a cake or assisting a surgical team.
Moreover, thanks to sophisticated machine vision and AI, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are becoming so independent that a handful of employees can even direct small fleets of them.
HIGH TURNOVER JOBS
In warehousing, retail and other industries with higher turnover rates, automation can help improve work conditions and overall enjoyment. By taking on the more dirty, hazardous, or monotonous tasks, automation allows humans to focus on more rewarding roles that can lead to employee growth and higher incomes.
However, it’s important to not see your workforce as human versus automation when it comes to job positions. Instead, evaluate how the two can work together to optimize productivity, profitability, and morale.
For example, swarm robots are changing the construction industry with their ability to adapt to a myriad of tasks. They can handle boring, repetitive jobs like bricklaying to dangerous ones like high-rise and demolition work, giving workers some much-needed rest.
Better yet, the fact that robotic automation is available to do the heavy lifting means that many workers can finally have an opportunity of rising up the ranks while drones take care of the daily grind.
CALING UP HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER
In the past, automating a business has been seen as a way of lowering labor costs. However, the opposite seems to be the case today.
With labor costs skyrocketing and competition only getting fiercer, many businesses are finding that automated solutions allow them to scale their companies without the need to hire and train new workers.
Building upon their existing crew of skilled workers, companies using automation can ramp up their productivity almost overnight. And making the leap doesn’t have to require the level of investment it once did either, thanks to the flexibility of modern automation systems. For example, ABB's collaborative robotic arm can be leveraged in industries from food processing to bolt manufacturing.
SMARTER WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT
Strengthening a workforce isn’t simply an issue of installing more automation solutions though. In fact, one of automation’s most successful applications involves using AI to power smart workforce management decisions.
Automating HR departments will streamline basic administrative tasks—such as payroll, time, and attendance management—that are needed to keep a business going and employees motivated.
On the shop floor, automated systems give supervisors a wealth of actionable data. Imagine knowing a warehouse picker’s picking rate, how quickly each component of a task takes or even where a product is in the production line. Automation can provide these insights on both a machine and worker’s performance, so you know where and how to optimize.
AUTOMATING IS EASIER THAN IT SEEMS
While not a cure-all, automation offers tried-and-true (and rigorously tested) tools that can optimize many processes. But it’s not something a business can implement overnight. That’s why the best way of approaching automation is by including your workers in the decision-making process.
Source their opinions, discuss where pain points are in current processes and see where there is room for improvements. This can give you a better picture of how to optimize and set your company up for more sustainable growth.
Ready to take the next step in strengthening your workforce? Come see all the ways automation can help—from robotics, machine vision, motion control, AI and more—at the Automate show in Detroit, Michigan, May 22–25, 2023.
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