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End-to-end factory automation is spreading its wings and it is optimizing processes even further. Although the debate about workers losing their jobs has already started, large business organizations are not implementing automation very aggressively. The majority of global manufacturers have already implemented automated systems in their production/assembly lines due to the rise of workforce automation in the manufacturing industry.
According to Statista, In 2021, the automation industry is estimated to generate around 214 billion U.S. dollars worldwide. This is becoming a trend across the globe and certain factors are responsible for this phenomenon.
A detailed explanation of those factors along with the benefits of automation in the manufacturing industry are given here.
The demand for greater productivity grows alongside an industry’s customer base and market share. The same is the case with the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing industry consists of a number of sub-industries that cater to numerous sectors such as Food and Beverage (F&B) industry, automotive industry, OEM industry, home appliances industry, apparel, footwear, and many more.
Workforce automation in manufacturing will eliminate redundancy and increase efficiency and in turn, productivity. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can mass produce products quickly with extreme precision and almost no downtimes.
This is about increased production output and it is also about consistent performance. Thus, the production output is less tampered and the human workforce can be used for creativity and strategic purposes.
Also, administrative processes such as employee management, process management, and scheduling can be easier through workforce automation.
The single manufacturing process has hundreds of complex steps that often increase overall production costs due to not being streamlined. RPA or automation can streamline those processes and reduce costs through extreme precision, and minimal wastage and errors.
Automation saves time during the process and utilizes power efficiently which is not possible with human intervention. As a result, higher ROIs can be achieved. All of these factors contribute to overall cheaper manufacturing.
For instance, workforce automation for manufacturing can be used in manpower and resource management. Managers can assign tasks to specific personnel with minimal interaction and they can get notified once the tasks are accomplished. This induces a collaborative work culture as well.
Safety measures should not be ignored in any manufacturing process and automation can also solve safety issues at the workplace. Tasks that are potentially unsafe can be automated for increased safety. Automation measures such as robotics, carousels, palletizers, and sorting systems can offer safety in the respective processes.
Automation can take care of such tasks that would have been handled by the workers that remain under the constant stress of repetitive tasks that may potentially cause an accident. In addition, empowering employees through specific equipment is also a form of automation that allows workers to finish time-consuming tasks with accuracy and ease.
Another aspect of safety automation is using sensors, lights, and automated stop switches that ensure that the employees are following the processes for the sake of their own safety.
However, relying too much on these processes is also not pragmatic as safety measures can only be efficient when they are improved periodically and the people using them are well-informed.
Since automation can take care of repetitive tasks, human energy and manpower can be focused on issues that require creative and strategic decision-making. There are many high-level tasks that require human expertise.
Experienced manufacturing professionals can use their expertise and offer assistance on improving efficiency on the floor and expand their production capabilities. In addition, experts do not have to monitor the whole process. They can have more time at their disposal which they can utilize on engaging employees for better control over the processes.
For instance, chief supervisors usually have extensive experience in the field. They can share the knowledge and their years of experience with new employees and staff for increased collaboration and efficiency at the workplace.
Many businesses ignore this aspect and they are unable to utilize the complete potential of their experienced employees. This is another reason that even small companies are installing automated processes and making it coast to coast phenomenon.
Some tasks in an assembly line or manufacturing process are impossible to accomplish without robots or automation. A good example would be an automotive industry where hundreds of units are manufactured by assembling thousands of parts of various sizes.
RPA has blessed the automotive industry by taking care of the majority of the processes in manufacturing such as tightening screws, placing large parts on the assembly line, and keeping those together so that the workers or other robots can assemble them.
Automation can play a huge role in quality control and improving overall product quality. Automated processes can replicate products over and over, and maintain the same quality each time. In addition, this is not the case only with product manufacturing processes but procedures that require human intervention can also take advantage of the automated administrative process.
These can reduce pressure from employees and allow them to utilize their complete potential. Automated processes require less or no human intervention and that reduces the margin of error in the respective procedures.
However, the need for workforce automation and the adopted automation model vary as per different business models and their specific objectives. Therefore, automation should be implemented while keeping such variables in mind.
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