As executives increasingly comprehend the business value inherent in automated solutions for manufacturing, distribution and other related operations, it becomes clearer that automation is more of a “must-have” than a “nice-to-have” for profitability. Just because executives put forth the investment and effort to integrate manufacturing automation, that doesn’t mean they always do so strategically—even though the strategy piece can actually mean the difference between a successful automation implementation and one that fails to align with the company’s core business goals.
Automation has been a staple in various factory settings for decades. And since the beginnings of industrial automation, there’s been a major shift in both technology and affordability.
But for some manufacturing executives, there remains a perception that the expense and risk of implementing automation is simply too much to be practical or worthwhile. The problem with this assumption is that it fails to acknowledge the immense profitability an investment in automation reaps for businesses of many types and sizes.
Technology is everywhere. When it comes to staples in your life like your smartphone, your TV, or your car computer, the tangible gains are obvious and immediate. When you’re talking about the business of manufacturing, however, there’s likely to be more ambiguity about whether technology is worthwhile. In other words, what can it actually do for the company’s bottom line?
When you’ve realized that automation can transform your business outcomes in some pretty significant ways, the logical next step is to consider how your organization will be most successful in terms of putting an effective automation plan into motion. The topic of leveraging internal resources versus partnering with a professional automation integrator is bound to surface. Because of this, it’s essential to have the most accurate information at your disposal so you don’t make unreliable assumptions in the decision-making process.
Manufacturing automation has been permeating the very fabric of the industry for quite some time now, evolving not only company operations, but also potential capabilities and the workforce as a whole. Applications in both fixed automation and robotics have the power to bring immense value to organizations that embrace the significance of automated solutions. While many manufacturing executives understand this concept in theory, there are those that question whether a specific integration project can actually improve their business.
Material handling, as a manufacturing term, encompasses a wide range of processes. It touches everything from machine tending and packaging to machine tending, press tending, picking, packing and palletizing. It is essential to the world’s supply chain capabilities and, therefore, a prime opportunity for integrating automation. As global realities, competitive pressures and consumer demands continue to shape (and reshape) the manufacturing landscape, automated material handling solutions become smarter and more advantageous than ever.
Advances in factory automation over the last several decades have been nothing short of extraordinary. From greater efficiencies and higher standards of safety to customization and quality improvements, inspiration and innovation have brought about fresh capabilities for players across the manufacturing industry. Even so, there’s much more to be explored in terms of advancing factory automation. As new technologies emerge, it’s both important and exciting to stay informed about the latest forward movements.
When Hanna-Barbera first brought The Jetsons to American television screens in the early 1960s, their characterizations of a futuristic world were mere projections of the imagination. In many ways, though, this series foretold some of our society’s most technologically driven advancements. And while the manufacturing industry isn’t quite the snapshot of automation portrayed by the likes of Spacely Sprockets, it isn’t all too far-fetched from this depiction of automation either.
In fact, automation is driving the future of manufacturing in ways we might not have even thought possible just a few short decades ago. From machine-operated production lines to multi-function collaborative robots, there’s been major transformation across the industry, compelled largely by the undeniable advantages and forward movement of automation.
A shift in manufacturing continues to unfold as a result of COVID-19, and many companies are turning to robotics as a solution for providing safe workspaces and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The benefits of robotics to manufacturing facilities are far-reaching, even beyond COVID. Minimizing the risk to employees during the current pandemic is critical, but there are several other safety concerns that robots in manufacturing address. Increased flexibility, reliability, productivity, and cost savings are all also compelling advantages of leveraging robotics in manufacturing.
Manufacturers everywhere are challenged to adopt contemporary business approaches in order to produce more quickly, with greater precision, and for less cost to the organization. Regardless of industry sector or size, manufacturers are driven to consider an array of automation solutions—ones that might have previously been completely unimaginable—as a way to meet evolving needs and stay competitive in the market.
As manufacturing automation becomes less of a commodity and more of a necessity, a host of significant trends are emerging. So, what’s on the horizon for automation in manufacturing, and in what directions are organizations apt to find themselves moving as a result?
Check out these four notable trends impacting manufacturing automation.