The landscape of industry has changed a lot over the past century, but never quite as fast as it has in the last decade or so. Automation has changed the way that manufacturing works and, with the advances in robotics and nanotechnology, it looks set to carry on doing so in the future.
Industrial Automation – What is it?
Industrial automation means using robotic devices for completing manufacturing task. In this era of computers, automation has become highly important in manufacturing industry only because the robotic or computerized devices can perform repetitive task efficiently and quickly. Automation has taken a step ahead of mechanization. Mechanization only provided machinery to human workforce to speed up their work while industrial automation has lessened the need for physical workforce.
The Pros of Automation
It saves money. This is the crux of the matter. Automating a company’s manufacturing processes is cost effective. It allows the company to employ less staff and work for longer hours. There is no need to worry about providing machines with benefits and holiday pay, and therefore, over the long term, the costs of actually implementing the systems are paid for quickly and returns can be high. Thus, though robotic machineries might appear a costly affair in the initial stage, they finally result in incredible savings.
Machinery used in industrial automation does not breakdown quite often. Even if the machinery fails to function, very few computer engineers are required for repairing the issue and keep it going smoothly. Industrial automation enables a company to function 24 hours a day, 365 days in a year and that too without spending any overtime charges like it would have been in case of human workers.
The fact that the work done by machinery is also not subject to the same human limitations means that it is more consistent and of a higher quality than it would otherwise be. Moreover, these machines can do mundane works which manual workers are not willing to do. Having a good automation system such as that provided by Unitronics therefore provides customers with a higher rate of satisfaction in the long run.
Robotic machinery can perform task beyond human capabilities like handling of heavy tools, large objects, too cold and too hot objects and so on. Automation also helps in the improvement of the economy. For instance, a company which has already invested in automation machinery gradually recovers its invested amount with increased income taking place due to industrial automated service.
The Cons of Automation
Automation can be costly to install initially. It requires an in-depth understanding of your company’s manufacturing processes before you even start considering it, and it requires people to be involved in the project who are experienced and knowledgeable of your day-to-day operations. If it is implemented badly or incorrectly, it can have an adverse effect on the running of the business, and the cost efficiencies will not be seen. There is also a rejection of automation from many existing employees who may see it as a threat to their employment. This is a cultural change and needs to be tackled carefully by employers.
Now, technology has certain limitations and hence, it cannot automatist all kinds of works. Industrial automation can result in the loss of thousands of jobs. Since robotic devices can replace human work power. Therefore, workforce will decrease while cost of living will rise resulting in poverty for many families which will try to make their two ends meet.
Know When and Where
It is important to know the right places within your process flow to automate. Get together a good team of people who understand your processes to be involved in any automation project from the start. Consider automating any processes which can be considered to be repetitive or which contribute 80% of your volume but only encompass 20% of your part numbers. Do not automate any processes which are difficult to duplicate or which have low labour content. It is just not worth it.
It is important, above all, to understand exactly what it is that you are undertaking when you look to automate your systems. It is always worth seeking the advice of experienced people and taking a look at the systems that are available to you before any decisions are made. Once a system is implemented, it is hard to undo, but if done correctly, you will reap the rewards.
Author’s Bio: Simon Hopes a proficient author and writes articles on Automation, Unitronics etc related.