Have you ever wondered how precision and efficiency are achieved in the production of so many objects that we use in our daily lives? From electronic devices to food packaging, behind every product is an intricate machinery that operates autonomously and efficiently. This is where automation in the manufacturing industry comes in.
Automation is part of the digital transformation, which allows us to go further and further. Without industrial automation, companies could hardly deal with the growing and volatile demand of an increasingly demanding population.
However, this is not about putting a machine in the place of a human. In fact, automation is not a way of replacing humans but of relocating them to more creative, high-value tasks that drive business growth.
Automation in the Manufacturing Industry
Over the decades, the manufacturing industry has seen tremendous growth and technological innovation. Automation, in the manufacturing industry, is nothing more than the use of technology to control and make the execution of tasks, functions and mechanisms autonomous to optimise the production chain.
Automation in manufacturing is not just robots on an assembly line handling mechanical processes, although that is part of it. Companies automate production and processes to eliminate silos, empower the flow of information and connect everyone, increase throughput and thereby increase return on capital employed (ROCE), eliminate downtime, reduce errors and rework, freeing people up for creative, value-added tasks, create a closed data loop for complete visibility and feedback, enable mass customisation, support lean operations, save money and reduce unit costs.
Modern factories continue to find new ways to incorporate industrial automation into their business process to automate manual tasks and improve production line efficiency. Ultimately, manufacturers increasingly recognise the importance of striking the right balance between technology and human workers. Instead of replacing employees, manufacturers are finding ways to leverage technology to improve employee productivity and safety while focusing human activity on more complex tasks that machines and robots cannot perform.
How is Automation Used in the Manufacturing Industry?
There are different ways through which technology and automation can be used to improve manufacturing processes.
Some of them are:
The supply chain consists of several repetitive and error-prone processes that can cause bottlenecks in the entire system of a manufacturing company. However, with automation, errors made during picking, receiving, storage and shipping can be eliminated, helping to optimise workflow and production efficiency.
The most applicable aspect of manufacturing where automation is used is the manual production process. Companies can use mechanical automation to improve factory production by combining machines, robots, IoT devices, and software to guide workers, collect data, and perform daily tasks.
This is an iterative process that takes up valuable human resources. However, companies can automate the procurement process using vendor portals and tools like vendor management systems.
As the business matures, companies may find managing a large volume of incoming orders more difficult. Order processing automation allows businesses to track new orders, order changes, and real-time price calculations.
The Role of Automation in Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry has seen a steady increase in costs over the past few years, which has led to increased demand for efficiency improvements. Automation has come into the picture to make production processes easier and faster.
Thus, the main objectives of industrial automation include the following:
A company can enhance its operational capacity by automating production processes and various strategic tasks that streamline decision-making and approvals. Thus, it can produce more in less time, which allows it to position itself differently in the market.
With automation, it is possible to standardise the flow of processes and operations before, during and after production. This makes it easier for the team to carry out their routines. With the right information and technology helping to run the machines and equipment, you can reduce unnecessary costs with rework and waste, making your team more focused on results and delivery excellence.
Have you noticed that it is common for industrial processes, over time, to become increasingly complex? Industrial automation aims to eliminate these risks and make execution as objective as possible. In this way, the company gains efficiency and speed, in addition to optimising the entire operational routine.
The industrial environment can be dangerous, but robots and machines can handle these dangerous production tasks through automation. Therefore, by automating the strategic processes that precede and follow the operational processes, it is possible to eliminate some risks. Thus, your company improves work safety, preventing severe accidents and preserving your machinery.
Have greater precision in operations
Finally, one of the main roles of automation in manufacturing is that it gives you greater precision in your operations, improves information exchange and streamlines operational executions. In this way, in the same way that the scope of a product is better developed, its machining and finishing also have better production. Industrial automation is a type of impact that goes beyond the concept of “replacing humans” but seeks efficiency in the first place.
Benefits of Automation in Manufacturing
By investing in automation tools and solutions, a company enters a reality in which production processes are automated, autonomous and integrated, with intense data and information sharing that serve as the basis for more assertive and agile decision-making.
With automation, you can better direct your company towards a more organised routine centred on customer needs, with special attention to internal problems and the ability to resolve them quickly.
Let’s look exhaustively at some of the benefits of automation in the manufacturing industry.
Unlocking people’s abilities
Human beings are the greatest asset of your operation. Automating everyday tasks allows you to direct employees to more creative, high-value tasks. Unlocking this capability means more innovation power as humans take on new roles, becoming data scientists, developers, and engineers.
Machines can run around the clock, unlike their human counterparts who need breaks, and food, and would go home at the end of the day. Automation helps to reduce breakdowns and makes it easier for manufacturers to save up on equipment repairs. It not only reduces the cost of equipment but also reduces labour costs. Automation also enables predictive maintenance, which reduces the risk of outages due to equipment failure.
Higher production volume
This is one of the benefits that propelled industrial automation into the market. With a faster, more accurate line, highly repetitive processes are performed with as little raw material waste as possible on any given shift, resulting in increased production volume.
Industrial automation has allowed manufacturing companies to stay in step with or even outrun their competitors. Robotic cells, for example, can provide companies with the necessary tools to decrease cycle times, improve production quality and reduce costs. In this way, industrial automation is an excellent tool for companies to remain strong in economic crises and external threats.
More quality and precision in production
Using machines to control manufacturing processes amounts to decreased human labour and, by extension, human errors. This is because robots do not have basic needs as humans do. When programmed for a function, robots will perform it with high repeatability and accuracy until some maintenance is required. Thus, machines and technology are programmed to perform repeatable tasks, and they do so more consistently than their human counterparts. This results in higher quality products and less raw material waste.
Greater information reliability
With the ease of access to information provided through automated systems, businesses can make more assertive decisions in real-time, always aiming at greater competitiveness, quality optimisation, energy and budget savings, among others. In this way, industrial processes gain more reliability and reduce the waste of material and money with unscheduled plant stops, overflows and out-of-hours maintenance.
Companies that automate their manufacturing processes are more responsive to customer and market demands, more flexible in the face of disruption, and more resilient. If you want to make this statistic, you can count on Hidden Brains, the right digital transformation partner, to help provide automation solutions to enhance your business productivity.
From warehouse and inventory solutions to retail management, we have industry-focused solutions to help you optimise your production processes for better results. Visit our website for more: www.hiddenbrains.africa or email us via [email protected].
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