Are you thinking about incorporating automation into your manufacturing process? Whether you brew
beer, make furniture, assemble electronics, or cut and drill materials, automation can help your New
York State manufacturing company to compete and win. There are plenty of reasons to automate, but
here are three to think about. Don’t just consider them separately, however. Increased productivity,
reduced costs, and improved workplace safety are all part of a winning strategy for your business.
Let’s start with a definition. Productivity is a measure of efficiency. More specifically, it’s the ratio of
output to input. For the sake of simplicity, let’s use widgets as the output and time as the input. A
manufacturing line produces 500 widgets in Week 1 and 1000 widgets in Week 2. There are the same
number of work hours in both weeks. How could automation explain this difference?
Automation increases productivity by avoiding the delays that are associated with manual processes
such as tooling changes and material handling. Machines don’t get sick or go on vacation either. If an
employee is absent and you don’t have a replacement, your line is less productive. Automation also
boosts productivity by speeding individual operations. Repetitive tasks may seem simple, but workers
still need time to think about these activities. By contrast, automated equipment simply follows a
Automation also increases productivity by reducing rework. Even if a human operator works as quickly
as a machine, errors are likely – especially if precision is required and the worker is fatigued. Every
widget (output) that’s discarded because of quality issues then requires more time (input) on the
production line. In other words, you need more input just to reach the same output. This reduces
productivity while increasing your costs.
Automation helps manufacturers to eliminate waste, a major source of costs. With automated
equipment, a manufacturer can set tight tolerances. Then, instead of depending on an operator to
notice process variations, a machine vision system can automate inspections and help to prevent
expensive rework. Automation can also reduce wasted motion and eliminate the labor costs involved
with tooling changes and material handling.
Of course, automation can also lower labor costs by enabling manufacturers to achieve their production
targets with fewer workers. Yet automation doesn’t have to be a job killer. Today, some U.S.
manufacturers are using collaborative robots (cobots) for repetitive tasks. These cobots help to keep the
American companies cost-competitive with low-wage competitors overseas. By complementing the
highly-skilled (and more expensive) labor that’s also needed, these cobots are helping to retain jobs.
Finally, automation can reduce material costs by reducing scrap and maximizing yields. For example, a
worker who cuts rubber sheets by hand probably uses a knife. Manual cutting isn’t as precise as
automated cutting, and mis-cuts that result in scrap may be common. An inexperienced cutter may also cut rubber parts in a way that doesn’t maximize the yield per sheet. Even worse, the employee may
discard the entire sheet without recording its usage, thus adding hidden costs to the job.
Improved Workplace Safety
Finally, automation can improve workplace safety by reducing the risk of accident and injury. Repetitive
tasks might seem easy, but they can induce fatigue – a common cause of worker injury. Accidents don’t
just happen on production lines either; they also occur in warehouses. Through automated warehouse
systems, companies can reduce lifting injuries and minimize the risk of falls. Workers remain healthy and
productive, and costly injuries can be avoided.
Would your company like to talk about automating operations? Contact FuzeHub and ask a
manufacturing expert how to get started. Increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved
workplace safety are three great reasons to automate.