With the increased proliferation of robots in our manufacturing companies, manufacturing automation is today a culmination of what may seem to the many as prophesy.
Starting in the 70s when robots started to increasingly appear in factories, it was believed that one day, our factories will run without the need for human presence. We are not there yet, but it is very likely to happen in our lifetime.
Technological advancements have and will continue to affect how manufacturing process are run. Automation is now a factor to consider in every business, whether in manufacturing or the service industry.
Benefits Accrued from Manufacturing Automation
Speed of production
Automation enhances the manufacturing process. The amount of work a robot can handle cannot be compared to how much the human staff of a factory can handle. A machine will produce at a higher rate than human staff thus more production.
Automation leads to enhanced production capabilities from a company mostly at much lower costs. Machines will, in addition to working faster, also work more with little need for rest. This faster and longer production capacities leads to improved production for the organization and thus a better bottom line.
Improves product quality
Automation leads to higher precision and accuracy in the manufacturing process. Once the machine is given instructions and specifications for a product, it will produce exactly as it is programed for every item of product that goes through it. This will reduce production defects almost completely.
Promotes human employee efficiency
Automation takes away the mundane and repetitive tasks of the job from human staff and leaves them ample time to come up with better ideas on how to improve on their work and profitability of the organization. Without these boring tasks, people are left to come up with new ideas and to ensure that the robots in the factory are working optimally.
Enhance safety in the workplace
Engaging robots in the production process reduces chances of staff getting into workplace accidents. Workplace accidents are quite expensive to the company in terms of man hours missed and also insurance and medical cost incurred.
Automation reduces staff cost
This does not mean that factories will have to fire staff. Rather, it means that companies will require less employees to reach optimal production levels thus saving on staff costs.
Looking into the crystal ball of manufacturing automation
Collaborative robots can be used in manufacturing organizations irrespective of size. These are robots that can be used in the same environment as humans and are also known as cobots. They enhance the capacity of human staff and organizations to produce more, higher quality products at reduced costs.
The factory of the future could be completely human free. Human staff will leave the robots to work on their own and just have regular check-ins to monitor production and correct any deviations and errors. Proponents of these foresee a much more profitable manufacturing industry when it is finally possible to implement this.
Internet of Things will combine with manufacturing automation
This will lead to having smarter robots in the shop floor. This could actually lead to the completely automated plant as human monitors could monitor and feed data into the robots remotely. This could even lead to robots effectively join forces with other robots to complete a particular task.
Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing automation
With AI inculcated into manufacturing we could face a period when defects within production will be completely eliminated. Robots with artificial intelligence will have the ability to tell when mistakes are made and will then rectify the mistake and produce a high quality end product.
Increased skills and Education
Factories of the future will require highly skilled personnel especially in the fields of programming and robotics. Programmers and computer scientists and the current factory workers have an opportunity to increase their education and grow their skills in these fields.