How to Successfully Implement Automation in a Factory?
In today’s reality, automating one’s factory has become more than a necessity; it’s a matter of survival. With the fourth industrial revolution at our doorstep, the future of manufacturing companies must be channeled into the integration of new technologies and intelligent automation. In order to keep up with the competition and ideally to get ahead of it, companies must automate their processes to increase their competitiveness and productivity.
There are many benefits associated with automation; in addition to reducing human error and being more efficient, it significantly reduces costs and lead times. Contrary to popular belief, automation and robotization do not eliminate jobs; with the resulting increase in production, they are often relocated. Sometimes, jobs are even generated due to the company’s increased competitiveness.
But to be able to enjoy all these benefits, it is important to succeed its automation. We acknowledge that this does not happen overnight, which may explain why several factories have yet to become automated. Follow the tips below to ensure you make it a successful endeavor.
How to Implement Successfully?
80% of human tasks are repeatable, therefore automatable. There is, however, a 20% that requires human judgment; this part is extremely difficult and costly to automate. Consequently, humans are not going to be replaced in your factories anytime soon. The key to successful automation implementation is not to try to replace it, but to merge the expertise and judgment of your employees with robotics to maximize the performance of the task to be performed.
Choosing the right supplier to automate your processes will make all the difference. Do not take this selection lightly. Consider automation experts. The client-supplier relationship is also important, and the dialogue must be clear and comprehensible. A thorough analysis carried out with the selected expert will help target key goals. He will also work with you to identify your most pressing automated problems that may not be the ones you had previously identified.
Furthermore, the training your employees will receive can make a big difference in your project’s success. Providing an additional service contract is recommended. Since these technologies are complex, having on-the-job training and support will provide a faster return on investment (ROI).
What Can Cause Problems to Arise?
The lack of preparation. Unfortunately, automation projects are sometimes started even though all concerned parties have not been consulted, which cause a change in projects along the way. Nobody likes to work hard on an automation project for several weeks and then have to start over again, because of a new data. In addition to possibly facing a significant cost increase and reducing the chances of a fast ROI, everyone will retain a bitter memory of the experience. Not to worry: an automation expert will ensure that the needs and expectations of all stakeholders are established and expressed clearly at the outset, to avoid this situation.
The quantity of parts. It is easier to implement automation in a company with a high volume production of parts of the same model. If a company only has small quantities of several parts to produce, it will be much more difficult to automate its processes cost-effectively.
The complexity of operations. Often, the plant’s Production Manager wants to automate its most complicated operations right from the start. Even if these operations are the most critical, it is not always ideal to tackle them first. Furthermore, it is imperative not to try to do everything at once. It is best to do things in stages, in order to create a good working relationship with the supplier. The recommended strategy is to take the time to discuss with your automation partner and to choose an important project for you that has a level of complexity guaranteeing project success and attaining ROI. A non-functional automated machine due to poor analysis will not serve either party.
The precision required. Aerospace’s reality, the level of precision required can greatly hinder the automation process. Robots being very repeatable but not precise represented an end in itself in the past. Indeed, at high levels of precision, the automated process must adapt to the smallest variations between the parts. Nowadays, this is possible with the advent of adaptive processes. These processes are becoming more popular, making this term a keyword. But not all adaptive solutions are at the same level. To choose the one that suits you, read this this post.
Where Do I Start?
Define your needs and expectations. Then, call on automation experts who will guide you in your projects. The choice of your supplier is important: consider them as an ally, which will help you improve the quality and performance of your factory. Finally, make sure you receive all the necessary training so you too become experts on your automated machines.