There are many misconceptions around the concept of automation in business or factory settings. Often times, we get a negative impression that the work being performed is not by hand or manual. We also believe that machines will perform work blindly, thus triggering many errors along the way. These misconceptions are truly misinformed and demonstrate a poor understanding of how businesses can use automation for success.
In this article, we will cover how businesses can reap the best rewards from automating their processes while also limiting their risks.
Automation is no different from the many different machines and technologies that we have in our lives. Think about the smartphone that you are ever reliant on. When you set an alarm on it in order to wake up on time the next day, you have simply passed your task onto a machine to handle it. Yet you do so with little apprehension over the possibility of something going wrong. The reasons of course stems from you having set the right timing on the alarm and having tested it beforehand.
From this standpoint, automation is actually not that different. In factories, we would key in parameters and rules for a machine to follow. Based on our inputs, we can be confident that the machine will performed as it was designed to.
The Importance of Testing
However, that is not to say that we can then be complacent and slack of. Instead, tests should always be performed prior to the start. Ultimately, we would like to see if the rules we have set are sufficient and if they work as intended. Moreover, testing allow us to observe any unforeseen circumstances.
Differentiating from AI
In this way, we are able to limit the possibility of errors while also getting machines to work in a smart fashion for us. A curious question then arises, how is this automation if we are still required to program the machines? The answer lies in that automation is often confused with automated intelligence (AI). Rather then getting a machine to learn on its own and experiment, in automation, we are simply setting rules to be followed and triggers that get the machines to perform desired actions.
Dealing with Capital Costs
Now that we have dealt with the misconceptions surrounding the usage of automation, we can now address the next big issue that business owners have. Namely, this is the capital cost required of them to invest into such technology. It is true that automation can be highly expensive and thus a barrier to businesses. It is also true that when used as demonstrated above, they will make you a great return on investment.
Nonetheless, you already knew this, so how then can you deal with such costs? The answer lies in the systematic deployment of automated technologies. Take for example a bottle filling line, rather than attempting to replace all parts of the production and assembly line, a part by part replacement would be more feasible. Start by identifying the bottle neck in the process and have that replaced first. This will help your factory’s productivity and output from the get go.
For example, if you are unable to fill enough bottles at any one time thus resulting in excess capacity at packaging, then purchase an auto filling machine to help. Once you have ascertained that the machine has relieved the bottleneck and shifted it to another part, you can then proceed to automate that part as well.