According to a report by McKinsey, manufacturing automation can allow businesses to improve their productivity levels by as much as 1.4% annually. Businesses need to capitalize on this opportunity if they want to stay ahead of the intense competition in the market.
In order to do so, these business manufacturers are increasingly using the prominent Industry 4.0 to help them make the giant leap. Consequently, the automation of processes, machines, and entire production lines is the new name of the game.
This article will help manufacturers like you understand why automation is essential for your business and how you can start implementing it right away:
What is automation in manufacturing?
Automation in manufacturing is known as the process through which a firm mechanizes its processes to manufacture any physical product. An automated manufacturing system’s primary benefits are improved productivity and profitability, minimal waste, and marginal human intervention.
Usually, manufacturers choose the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which grants manufacturers an edge over others. This edge is given by utilizing optimal inventory management, minimal machine downtime, and agility throughout the production line.
Ultimately, it must be understood that manufacturing firms can only survive if they proactively adapt to automation in their businesses. Many types of automated manufacturing are emerging today, such as additive manufacturing, predictive maintenance, industry 4.0, supply chain technologies, and more.
Automation in manufacturing- main uses
When you think of automation, you might think of robotic arms or machinery doing repetitive tasks. While this is partly true, manufacturing process automation has moved beyond basic mechanization. Here are some of the ways you can use automation in your manufacturing business:
Stating the obvious, manufacturing automation largely encompasses adopting advanced technologies, software, and machinery to optimize production lines. The primary way manufacturers can utilize automation in their production processes is through the use of specialized software.
An amalgamation of systems, software, machines, robots, and even AI can help streamline production lines for optimal production levels. Furthermore, these additions will also help remove potential bottlenecks, make faster decisions, and optimize inventory levels.
The first step in any production process is the procurement of raw materials. Automating this part of the process implies that manufacturers can access supplier portals, vendor systems, and similar management systems. This process can help make the procurement process easy.
In this way, employees become free from repetitive tasks that can be handled easily via technological solutions. Consequently, they can divert their focus to the more essential manufacturing issues.
- Order Processing
Manufacturing is relatively easy if you’re a small business with a limited set of loyal customers. However, once the business starts scaling up, handling the rising demand and consequent orders can take time and effort.
Once manufacturers automate order processing, they can quickly handle orders while considering their available materials, labor, and even equipment. Orders execute only after evaluating inputs and analyzing the demand for them.
- Supply Chain
Finally, you can automate entire supply chains to speed up the process from your procurement all the way to order fulfillment. Automating each part of the supply chain ensures that production is conducted optimally with minimal intervention and bottlenecks.
Manufacturers can optimize production and delivery times through an automated supply chain for ultimate customer satisfaction and long-term customer loyalty.
Benefits of automation in manufacturing
The advantages gained through the use of digital tools in any activity are very obvious. Similar to other areas, manufacturing has brought significant advantages to the manufacturing industry. Here are some of the benefits gained when you choose to automate your manufacturing business:
- Optimal resource utilization
Your manufacturing business requires raw materials, labor, and equipment to begin production. With human intervention, such production is open to bias and error. After all, humans need to be more apt at keeping track of long lists of inventory or matching demand with supply proactively.
Automated processes can help you with that and more. By allowing you to assess available resources in real time, you can task your production and make sure resources are used optimally. Resources are scheduled while making sure that none of them are being exhausted, making time for the more complex tasks.
- Effective decision making
Through the use of automated devices, IoT, and similar technologies, manufacturers are able to keep track of data in real-time. Such mechanization allows manufacturers to stay on top of any bottlenecks that may occur along the way.
Additionally, real-time data on task productivity, labor effectiveness, and equipment maintenance can allow manufacturers to make proactive decisions regarding them. Such decision-making proves to be effective as it is taken at the right time.
- Better product quality
Processes that are automated and repetitive in nature are better able to produce consistent output than manual labor. Robots, AI, and other machinery can help produce high-quality products and services without compromising on the consistency of quality.
Furthermore, the development of quality control programs and tools can help manufacturers stay on top of faulty or sub-standard products. This step will allow them to protect their brand and increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.
- Enhanced productivity levels
Lastly, in business, it all comes down to the cost and profit that a firm manages to make. Businesses will only seek to adapt to any technology when they can see any significant profitability from it in the long run.
Truly, the automaton can help cut down on various costs and consequently enhance the profitability of the business. Since process automation leads to minimal wastage and optimal resource utilization, it is a primary means of improving work optimization and enhancing productivity.
- Better lead times
Previously, manufacturers had to hire operators or shop-floor managers to look after production activities. This process was rather tedious and required more workers to work in shifts. With the help of machines, production no longer needs to be supervised the way it used to.
As a result, manufacturers are able to achieve faster lead times as production process runs faster, longer, and with minimal supervision. Automated processes can, in turn improve profitability and lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Increased worker safety
Operations no longer have to be dangerous thanks to process automation. Employees no longer need to work in hazardous and risky work environments as machines can easily replace them and minimize the level of risk.
Dangerous work situations such as building constructions, electrical works, and similar hazardous jobs can become automated and save workers from risking their lives. Therefore, workplaces are becoming safer for employees thanks to automation.
How to start implementing automation in manufacturing
Can’t wait to optimize your manufacturing business? Here is how you can start:
- Choose the right automation system
As a manufacturer, you should know that the luxury of automation does not come cheap. However, the significant cost benefits and profitability it brings make it worthwhile. Substitute your manual system and traditional machinery for IIoT and an overall innovative system.
- Choose the right automation tools.
After choosing the right system, the next step involves choosing the right \automation tools. An automation expert can help guide you in this regard and allow you to choose the most suitable tools for your business processes.
- Run tests
After setting up the right system and tools, it’s time to test how effective your newly updated manufacturing system can be. The testing phase will allow you to assess what integrations and optimizations are necessary for your business.
- Maintain the process
Once you are through with the automation process, you might think it is over, and no further improvements are needed. However, automation is a continuous process since the digital landscape continuously changes and requires processes to be updated consequently.
Challenges in process automation
Everything comes with its fair set of challenges. Similar is the case with process automation:
Lack of preparation
Process automation can face challenges if all concerned parties are not aptly prepared. Automation experts make sure that all requirements and prerequisites for the automation to go through will go smoothly.
Quantity of parts
Another challenge in process automation is the number of parts being produced that need to be automated. For an automation process to be successful and cost-effective, the number of parts produced needs to be in sufficient quantity. Automating a process that produces smaller quantities will lead to expensive automation.
Manufacturing operations are rather complex, and automating them all at once can become a real challenge. It is important that an automation expert is hired who can take the automation process step by step so that operations do not become complex.
Automation in manufacturing is repetitive but may not guarantee the precision many processes requires. Automated solutions require adaptability and the smallest variations, which is now possible with the help of technology. For precision, automated processes at the highest level of precision are required.
Are you interested in automating your manufacturing business? Consider choosing an automation expert that can help you choose the most suitable one for your business. Our experts at Plataine can help you make the best choices. Contact us now.