Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Benefits of Automation

Manufacturers are looking for that perfect mix of automation benefits that will maximize the number and quality of units produced and the lowest cost that will give the highest profits. Automation machines can increase the competitiveness of a small business so that it will be able to economically produce parts and finished products to complete with much larger organizations. A realistic way for you to look at automation benefits is to look at how much automation can save your business in the long-term. It is felt unreasonable to just review what automation can do for you in the short-term without seeing what positives can happen in your business in the long-term. In both time periods automation can prove to be of great benefit in many ways. To find out how these positives can impact your business it is good to review what groups can benefit from automation of your business. In addition it will be best to know what are the expectations from your business of each of these groups.

A good place to start the benefit identification process is to look at your employees. This group can obtain some very definite benefits from automation. One major area is that of safety. Employees can have their work become safer with the introduction of automation into the tasks that they do each day.

When moving any objects in the workplace whether it be raw materials, parts, or finished goods, automation can carry the heavy load by doing most of the work. This will save employees from possible injury. This not only removes the pain from the job of an employee, but also will remove the cost to your business in the form of lost production time and the possible expense of a suit because of injury. Automation will benefit employees by increasing the speed of production and efficiency in their jobs. Automation will take away those redundant, mind-numbing tasks that can wear employees down over time. Not only will employee physically well-being be improved, but also their psychological well-being can be improved. A sometime overlooked benefit for employees is the fact that automation may give some employees the ability to upgrade their skill set. This would come in the form of training in the use of new technology. The pressure of automation will help the workforce become more effective in the use of new technology on the job. It can also help as workers are trained for high technology positions that they may not have had an opportunity for otherwise.

Another group that will gain benefits from automation are the customers who purchase the products from your business. Automation will make products more readily available to the market than they were before automation came along. Delivery of products to market is speedier and products are built more consistently. The entire process of manufacturing is much more dependable in terms of on-time delivery and accuracy of construction.

As a business owner you should look at automation benefits from a financial standpoint. Cost benefit analysis can give you the good news about implementing automation in your operations. It is important to get that long-term picture of the contribution that automation can make. Initially the cost of installing automation can seem high, but if you look down-stream at the efficiency that it will bring you can see how it can be a positive force. It should reduce labor costs, increase safety, improve production and delivery times, cut down product rework, and improve product consistency. All these positives should more than offset the initial expense that you might have from setting up automation. As technology works on automation development, the cost of including automation in your manufacturing is going down. In evaluating automation you should look seriously at lean manufacturing as direction that can help to boost the contributions of automation. As a way of operating lean manufacturing can help you in the definition of raw materials, processes, and time allocations for production, which will allow you to get even more benefit from automation.

There are very few areas in the manufacturing process that are not significantly improved by the addition of automation. At any point on a production line you can have an automation device move into the work area to give employees an assist in making your products better for the customer who will buy them. You do not have to automate your entire production process at once to get the benefit from these changes. You can concentrate on a single area of production that is a problem area or has high cost in traditional or manual production to move it toward optimized automation. As you get that area under control from a cost or production standpoint, you can then move to another area of production. This is one method of automating your manufacturing in a phased approach that will not disrupt your entire operation while it is being done, but you will see benefits that will encourage further automation.

John Mitchell is President of Provision, Inc, an online publisher of information about the application of automation in business. Mitchell has years of experience in the management of manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation. The company website, http://www.provinc.net, assists companies in the evaluation of the benefits and capabilities of production automation. Thoughts on how to select the most effective automation for your business are presented. Insights into the use of vision systems, RFID and other topics in automation are covered. Requests for quotations and questions about automation can be submitted to the consulting engineers of leading automation companies.
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