Automation is no longer just a future aspiration or dream for companies. It’s a real and powerful solution waiting for them, here and now.
From basic or process automation to intelligent automation solutions that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, the world of automation is advancing and unlocking what’s possible for companies—and people—across industries and continents.
But why exactly is now such an exciting time to be leveraging or working in automation?
While the answer may change based on who you ask, we believe it comes down to a mix of three key reasons. Those are:
So whether you’re looking to adopt automation, expand your solution set or simply learn more about what’s happening, this article is for you. Let’s get to the exciting stuff!
NEW WAYS TO POWER INDUSTRIES
Did you know the early stages of automation date back to around the 1st century BC with the water wheel? Yup, that giant wheel was a semi-automated solution that utilized the falling water of a watermill to drive a mechanical process. From there, watermills and windmills improved and inspired new ways to automate or reduce manual labor.
But it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that the term “automation” was actually coined. According to Britannica, it came from “the automobile industry around 1946 to describe the increased use of automatic devices and controls in mechanized production lines.”
While the automotive industry is still one of the most prominent industries leveraging automation, it is far from the only one. Today, you can find automation solutions and technologies making an impact across a variety of different industries—from food and beverage to healthcare to agriculture and beyond.
No matter the industry though, automation is helping companies to solve challenges, streamline processes and enhance production at every stage.
There are robotic solutions that can help companies navigate production pressures, changes or disruptions—due to market demands, supply or other factors—with flexibility and speed. There are vision systems and cameras that can help with sorting, inspections, quality control and even protecting workers. There are motion control systems to help improve production lines, accuracy and time-to-market. And finally, artificial intelligence (AI) can analyze data, forecast and predict information, and boost other automation systems.
Whether used alone or together, these different automation solutions and tech can provide immense value and support to any business, small or large. Really, it’s no wonder that many companies are betting big on automation in the coming years.
Automation continues to evolve, keeping up with the latest demands, requirements and “what-if” thoughts that drive our world’s progress. Today’s advancements are the products of our current landscape.
With many companies still facing labor shortages and workforce challenges, automation offers an opportunity to get work done. But it also provides a chance for the current and prospective employees to reframe how they work and where their skills can be best utilized. It’s important to note that automation isn’t a replacement for humans but instead, additional support and enhancement for operations.
On top of labor, there are also the added pressures of market demand and time-to-market. Again, automation can help manage production timelines with efficiency and speed while maintaining strict quality control and maximizing spend.
Safety also continues to be a prime reason for implementing automation solutions. Robots can take on dirty, dull and dangerous tasks that may not be as appealing or safe for workers. Plus, AI and vision systems can help keep an “eye” out for risks like hazardous areas or equipment malfunctions.
And let’s not forget about the opportunity to minimize waste and create more sustainable operations. From data analysis to process optimizations, operations take bigger steps toward their ESG objectives or goals.
We’ve come a long way since the water wheel. While every advancement and improvement has been exciting, today’s manufacturers are taking leaps forward with connectivity and collaboration. It is this constant, accelerated change that is driving innovation in automation—which drives innovation everywhere else.
Think about IoT devices that allow for connectivity and information availability by providing more visibility across an operation. Not only does this improve decision-making, but it also allows for more peace of mind and confidence when making critical decisions.
When it comes to production boosts, collaborative robots can safely work alongside human workers to handle repetitive, menial tasks. In fact, this solution is seeing exponential growth and is “expected to reach $7.5 billion in value by 2027, accounting for 29% of the entire industrial robot market,” according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).
Even technology like a digital twin—a virtual copy of a product, person or system—can be used to find greater efficiency or gain insights. Digital twins provide virtual models for companies to run simulations, test ideas or study performance issues. This tech is already being used in industries that handle large products or projects, like aerospace, manufacturing and construction.
Other exciting opportunities for the automation industry that continue to gain traction are digitalization, 5G technology, enabling solutions like software, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and service-oriented applications for consumer industries.
BE A PART OF THE AUTOMATION EXCITEMENT
Are you ready to join the excitement? From discovering the latest and leading automation solutions to hearing from manufacturers, engineers, innovators and decision-makers changing the future of their businesses and industries, Automate 2024 is the place to be.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new or experienced, from a small company or a large enterprise, a student or an educator—our show floor is for those who are simply curious about what’s possible in automation. That’s why beyond seeing solutions in action, we also offer educational events, networking opportunities and conference tracks to deepen your understanding and inspire your next power move.
If you’re ready to take the next step, we’re ready for you. Join us at Automate 2024, May 6–9 in Chicago, IL.
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