9 Reasons For Automation Of Manufacturing Processes

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9 Reasons For Automation Of Manufacturing Processes

Manufacturing automation

Automated manufacturing systems operate in the factory on the physical product. They perform operations such as processing, assembly, inspection, or material handling, in some cases accomplishing more than one of these operations in the same system.

They are called automated because they perform their operations with a reduced level of human participation compared with the corresponding manual process. In some highly automated systems, there is virtually no human participation.

Companies undertake projects in manufacturing automation and computer-integrated manufacturing for a variety of good reasons. Some of the reasons used to justify automation are listed below. Of course, there are many other reasons, so feel free to add your reasons below in the comment box.

Also, I’ve put few interesting videos with latest news in automation of manufacturing processes at the bottom of this article. Enjoy!

1. To increase labor productivity

Automating a manufacturing operation usually increases production rate and labor productivity. This means greater output per hour of labor input.

2. To reduce labor cost

Ever-increasing labor cost has been and continues to be the trend in the world’s industrialized societies. Consequently, higher investment in automation has become economically justifiable to replace manual operations.

Machines are increasingly being substituted for human labor to reduce unit product cost. While this is not good for people, it’s good enough for production. Sad but true, isn’t it?

US manufacturing productivity and output chart
US manufacturing productivity and output chart (credit: heritage.org)

3. To mitigate the effects of labor shortages

There is a general shortage of labor in some countries, and this has stimulated the development of automated operations as a substitute for labor.

4. To reduce or eliminate routine manual and clerical tasks

An argument can be put forth that there is social value in automating operations that are routine, boring, fatiguing, and possibly irksome. Automating such tasks serves a purpose of improving the general level of working conditions.

Smart food factory automation
Smart food factory automation (photo credit: csb.com)

5. To improve worker safety

By automating a given operation and transferring the worker from active participation in the process to a supervisory role, the work is made safer. The safety and physical well-being of the worker has become a national objective with the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. This has provided an impetus for automation.

6. To improve product quality

Automation not only results in higher production rates than manual operations. It also performs the manufacturing process with greater uniformity and conformity to quality specifications. Reduction of fraction defect rate is one of the chief benefits of automation.

Automation improves worker safety
Automation improves worker safety (credit: heritage.org)

7. To reduce manufacturing lead time

Automation helps to reduce the elapsed time between customer order and product delivery, providing a competitive advantage to the manufacturer for future orders. By reducing manufacturing lead time, the manufacturer also reduces work-in-process inventory.

8. To accomplish processes that cannot be done manually

Certain operations cannot be accomplished without the aid of a machine. These processes have requirements for precision, miniaturization, or complexity of geometry, that cannot be achieved manually.

Examples include certain integrated circuit fabrication operations, rapid prototyping processes based on computer graphics (CAD) models, and the machining of complex, mathematically defined surfaces using computer numerical control. These processes can only be realized by computer controlled systems.

9. To avoid the high cost of not automating

There is a significant competitive advantage gained in automating a manufacturing plant. The advantage cannot easily be demonstrated on a company’s project authorization form.

The benefits of automation often show up in unexpected and intangible ways, such as in improved quality, higher sales,better labor relations, and better company image. Companies that do not automate are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage with their customers, their employees, and the general public.

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