If you’re considering introducing automation into your production process, then you should consider both the advantages and disadvantages of automation, before making a decision. Read our blog to find out more about the pros and cons of industrial automation.
Advantages of Automation
- Improved working environment
With the use of automation it is possible to improve the working conditions and safety within your production process or plant. Automation can reduce health and safety risks, eliminate manual handling and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury.
- Increased competitiveness, sales and profit
Automation enables to you to become more competitive in your market. This is because as your production process is more automated, human error is reduced, product quality become more consistent, and cost per part goes down due to increased production speeds and the reduction in resources required to produce the goods.
- No labour crisis
Finding labour for mundane, repetitive tasks is becoming more and more difficult, and is likely to become more difficult in the UK after Brexit. Unemployment in the UK is currently at the lowest it’s ever been since July 1975, so many factories are struggling to find factory workers, especially for heavy manual work. Automation can eliminate the need for staff to perform these types of tasks.
- Increase production capacity
Automation increases your production capacity as machines can be set to work 24/7 unmanned. Automated machines do not have breaks, sick leave or holidays, and therefore even if they are only running during normal shift hours, this alone can often lead to a production increase of 140%+. Automated machinery can also typically run faster and produce more accurately made products with fewer defects.
- Compliance consistency
Automated manufacturing is inherently more consistent and accurate in production quality. In order to meet market demands these days, product quality has to be better and more consistent than ever before, often the only way to achieve this is with automation. Automated inspection systems can be installed at the end of a manual or automated production process using sensors and vision systems to automatically check products for defects and compliance with specification. This enables faulty products to be rejected, eliminating defects and costly product recalls.
- Increased factory productivity or OEE
With all the benefits of automation in the points above your process becomes more streamlined and efficient with lower running costs and faster production speeds, and better quality production. This dramatically improves your factory productivity. For some real life examples read our testimonials page.
Disadvantages of Automation
- Capital expenditure
Whilst automation can prove highly effective and bring you a positive ROI, it may also require a fairly high capital cost. That’s why, before making a decision we recommend considering both the investment needed and also the ROI you expect to achieve. When calculating the ROI it is important to include increased throughput value, reduced labour costs and the reduction in defects/recalls along with the capital expenditure before deciding whether or not there is a business case for investment. With the help of an automation project calculator you will be able to calculate your estimate payback and view finance estimates.
- Gets rid of jobs
It is true that with the introduction of automation there are some jobs that may become redundant, but this does not necessarily have to be a negative implication of automation. Instead of staff performing mind-numbing, monotonous or unpleasant tasks, they can be trained to transfer to working in other areas of your business. Many companies have found that after installation of automation they have seen sales rise, thus creating more jobs in different parts of their business.
- Bespoke automation becomes redundant when production processes change
As with any type of machinery, if you change your production process or product you are manufacturing so that a particular machine is no longer part of the process then the machine becomes redundant. Therefore it is very important to future proof any automation you install into your production process. A skilled automation company will design your automation system to enable it to be easily adapted to suit changes in your product design or production process. For example; by using standard flexible automation such as robots, these can be easily used somewhere else in a manufacturing process even if the existing process becomes redundant.
The advantages of automation often outweigh the disadvantages but every case needs careful consideration to ensure that the right decision is made. There will sometimes be situations where automation does not justify itself. Equally if you don’t automate and stay as you are without carefully assessing the benefits of automation you could be missing out on some significant advantages.
We hope this blog has given you some insight into the aspects you should consider before introducing automation into your company. However, if you need any more guidance or you’d like to find out more about the benefits of robotic palletising systems and how they could be applied in your production process then please don’t hesitate to contact our team of automation experts who are always happy to help. Give us a call on 01223 499488 or email email@example.com.