Manufacturing industry has undergone a major change in the past two decades, thanks to the advent of technology and its influence. Gone are the days when the fabrication and even manufacturing was done by people with their own hands. It is the age of automated manufacturing. Having robotic automation or similar technology in your industry will give you an upper hand in the market because now you can manufacture goods at lightning speed, with perfect quality.
So what is automation?
Automation, in simple words, is the process of making something automatically. It could be a process, an apparatus or operation of a system. Automation technology is nothing but using the technology to monitor and make products, efficiently. It is not just manufacturing where automation comes into play. It can also be used for quality control and also for ensuring proper delivery of services/products within the promised timelines too.
Automated manufacturing is now a deciding factor in the emergence of the market leader. Now that there is so much of an importance given to this technology, the question rises if it is really worth having it in your industry. Let us take a look at the advantages you gain by having automated manufacturing.
Pros of automation technology in manufacturing
- Lesser cycle time: When you have a machine, that works faster than light, you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of time in producing high quality goods. Machines are prone to err lesser than humans and hence is a major advantage in having automated manufacturing at your plant.
- Accurate and repetitively so: Compared to a human employee, when you have a machine doing the same task again and again, the accuracy value shoots up higher and the error possibility is almost close to zero. This is much true when you have to do the same task again and again, like in the manufacturing industry.
- Cost effective: Another biggest advantage that works in favor of using automation technology is the fact that you incur lesser cost on salaries to workers. There are no sick day compensations or benefit package that you need to pay for the machines.
- Error free: A very major advantage in having automation technology in manufacturing is to reduce the possibility of any errors. Machines do what they are asked to do even repetitively with the same quality as that of the first product they manufacture. So, eventually you have a error free process with machines.
- More safe: When you do not have many employees working close to dangerous production areas, the chances of any injury or casualty to humans becomes lesser. Automated manufacturing paves way to have a safer environment compared to having employees around the same production area.
- Increased production: Another key factor to note when you employ automated manufacturing is the fact that these machines can easily handle large volumes and can do so in a much lesser time than humans. This means that you stand to gain in terms of the revenue with the increased productivity.
The Drawbacks to using automated manufacturing
Like every coin, there is a flip side to using automation technology in manufacturing industry. We need to weigh the pros and cons effectively before deciding on the best possible way for us.
- Lack of versatility: While your machine is programmed to do a certain task, you cannot expect it to think logically for the situation and vary the output or handle multiple tasks of varying attributes at the same time. This is something you can only hope for in human employees.
- Pollution: While the machines ensure that there aren’t many employees near the hazardous areas of production, they are actually disturbing the environment by means of releasing chemicals and gases into the environment. Inevitably, this results in an increased pollution if not contained properly.
- Higher investment to start: Automated manufacturing machines are not cheap to begin with. You need to have a huge capital to invest in the machines before you start gaining profits from it. Depending on the degree and the kind of automation technology that you want to employ, the cost will vary. And of course, there is the higher possibility of breaking even with increased productivity and decreased cycle times.
- Unemployment: When machines take over what most humans do, this results in the obvious social problem of unemployment. More the automation, lesser the employees and higher the rate of unemployment.
- Unforeseen costs: Sometimes you may not have expected certain costs to work out more than the profit you gain from the automated manufacturing This could be cost on research and development, maintenance costs – both preventative and corrective, training cost to have your employees operate the machines with efficiency.
Automation technologies like Robotic automation are becoming the increasing rage in all industries, more so in the manufacturing sector. The pure reason for their popularity is the fact that they help increase profits in a very short span of time. However, we need to be very careful before employing automated manufacturing in our plants. While these can prove to be quite profitable for many industries or factories, they may not actually work out much profitable for some.
If you want to remain competitive in the market and get valuable returns on your investment, then you need to ensure that you are clear on your objectives. If you are an owner of a smaller industrial unit, where the production quantity is low, for there is a lower demand, then investing in an automated manufacturing unit may not be such a good idea. It will certainly not be economically feasible for your balance sheet. However, if you are an owner of a larger unit, then investing in automated machines on the shop floor can prove quite beneficial to you.