To automate or not to automate? In today’s manufacturing, the answer to this Hamletian dilemma is clear. More and more companies are moving towards Industry 4.0 and manufacturing automation.
This article focuses on companies that are still embracing the power of full or partial manufacturing automation and the major benefits that you can expect. Let’s break down manufacturing automation into cost reduction, efficiency, and safety categories and dive deeper into each of them.
If you can look past the initial investment into the system, you’ll reap many benefits of direct and indirect operational costs. Reducing human labor resources, especially with labor shortages and wage increases, will offset the initial investment in no time.
Passing on the majority of the manual tasks to the 24/7 operating machines with higher production capacity and lower error rate will increase the overall productivity and production throughout your processes, also lowering lower operating costs along the way.
And lastly, automated and precise quality control that eliminates human errors and subjectivity will also ensure minimal losses due to faulty production.
Higher operational efficiency
With automated solutions, your operations can run 24/7 with minimal resources, cost, and downtime. Though some manual oversight is still required, manufacturing automation reduces the reliance on unskilled labor, where human effort adds little added value to production.
Automation helps to shift workforce focus on high-level tasks, requiring multiple skills and expertise.
Only with sufficient production automation can the company move into a continuous improvement cycle, with engagement from employees on finding more efficient ways to run your facilities, improve the processes, expand capabilities and work on innovation.
To summarize, automated operations will allow you to achieve better overall performance quality-wise, with greater uniformity and improved control.
The shift from the unskilled labor force and improved employee engagement is one of the indirect benefits, attributable to technology-centric manufacturing processes.
Enhanced quality control
There are a few aspects of how automation improves product quality.
By implementing automated machinery to cover routine manual tasks, you already win in terms of final result uniformity and a reduced number of defects.
The next jump in production quality may be harnessed by employing automated visual quality control systems.
Such systems rely on visual data like human quality controllers, yet they eliminate human error and subjectivity and maintain the highest standards throughout your processes at all times. Research has shown that automated visual inspection, which relies on Artificial intelligence, is hands down better in continuous operational settings.
Unlike a human operator, it is an always-on platform, which requires minimal investment for implementation. Among the core, benefits are the holistic quality oversights, reduced production returned rates, and increase in trust from your business partners.
Improved workplace safety
Visual analysis solutions have not only made it into the production line but are also working alongside it. Enter the virtual workplace safety assistant.
In an industrial environment, accidents may happen in seconds. Often they are the result of human factors when proper safety protocols are not followed.
By utilizing security video cameras on the factory floor, the virtual workplace safety assistant may monitor if employees are wearing the required personal protection equipment (PPE), including hardhats, protective eyewear, gloves, and many more.
Once again, it is an always-on safety platform, which does not take coffee breaks or turn a blind eye. It helps to identify PPE policy breaches in real-time, prompting shift managers to take necessary precautions.