Efficiency Tips: When Do You Need to Automate?
As automation becomes more common in most industries today, business owners might be wondering if they should gear toward machinery over labor. It is tempting to have a state-of-the-art facility with the best that technology has to offer in terms of accuracy, efficiency, and sanitation. Human labor is now at luxurious costs compared to the expense of purchased equipment for a particular process. It is no longer uncommon for entrepreneurs to consider replacing their employees with robots that can perform the same function at a faster rate and with higher accuracy.
However, in case there are hesitations regarding automation, there can be a compromise between human labor and machinery at work. After all, there might be employees that companies will want to keep on the production floor. One way for employers to allow human control during an automated process is to combine the strengths of the two in one workstation.
For instance, a semi-automatic piston filler can be integrated into a bottling process for a manufacturing company. The machine will input the exact amount of the product into the bottle, and the rest of the packaging process will be performed manually. This allows for a quality control check during production as the human employee involved can conduct an on-site inspection of the product before it proceeds to the packaging portion of the production line.
Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with the nuances of technology and as to when it should be implemented in a business. There will be different instances where it is necessary (to increase production, for example), and other cases where it is unusual for the company’s brand (such as one involved in artisanal soap making). Here are some indications that a business needs to integrate automation in its day-to-day operation:
The Scale of Production Has Increased
When the speed and efficiency of human-led production can no longer meet the required production capacity of the company, there needs to be automation involved to ease the load off the workers. This is true whether the venture is engaged in manufacturing or the service sector. The business owner often has two options: buy new equipment to help meet the demand or hire more employees to increase productivity in the workplace.
Machinery can provide employees the liberty of working on more complex and safer tasks, rather than being stressed out at work. There are cases where robots can be a better means of gathering data or transforming raw material rather than having a human dive into extremely dangerous conditions to meet the quota for the day. Without hesitation, a piece of equipment will perform the tasks required of them so long as they are programmed to do so. As a result, the company can meet the desired market demand due to the absence or reduction in human error on the production floor. Furthermore, no matter how specialized a person is in a particular part of the process, machines will always be able to perform it at a much faster rate than humans.
Specific tasks, such as screwing on the cap of a tube of toothpaste, do not require specialized skills. In addition, they can be performed by a piece of equipment in a matter of milliseconds compared to a human. One of the disadvantages of specialization is the increase in the dissatisfaction of the employee the longer they spend on that particular workstation. This can be avoided by assigning menial jobs to machinery rather than human employees. Instead, the workers can be allocated other tasks that require critical thinking and other qualities that typical machines have.
The specific nature of the weight or volume required in some manufacturing processes or the accuracy preferred in bookkeeping can be a reason for automation in the workplace. Machines can provide accuracy to a production line, wasting less raw material compared to the frequent occurrence of human error. The equipment can be designed or programmed to transfer a particular weight or volume to a container, and software can be used to improve the accuracy of the bookkeeping procedures of a business. As a result, it relieves employees of the challenges of precision while they are in the workstation.
Although there are other reasons for integrating automation in the workplace, the main factor to consider is whether the company can afford to do so in the first place. For businesses that are growing, retained profit must be considered as a financial resource in any upgrade made during the production or performance of a service.