Technology has changed the face of manufacturing in the last 30 years. Back in the old days, all manufacturing work was done using human labor. These days though, automation using technology and computers is a competitive advantage, allowing for companies to mass produce products at a high quality standard and at speed. This means that automation is essential for most companies that wish to stay competitive in the industry. However, while automation offers many advantages in the industry, there are some negative aspects about it too.
Advantages of automation
Reduced production time: an automated machine speeds up production because the machine doesn’t need to think. This leads to better repeatability and less defects with the products.
Better accuracy: Automated machines can be programmed to repeat tasks over and over again, which leads to much greater accuracy with the products made.
Lower costs: Using automated machinery means that less employees are needed to keep the operation up and running. There will also be less health and safety issues, which means more money can be saved on running costs. Payroll, benefits, and sick day costs will all be reduced by reducing the number of employees.
Better health and safety record: With less employees running around, the chances of someone having a serious accident are significantly reduced.
Increased production: The number one benefit for many is that production can be ramped up significantly when using automated machines. This in turn leads to increased profitability.
Disadvantages of automation
Reduced versatility: A manufacturing facility that’s populated by machines that can only perform a limited number of tasks means less flexibility. While slower, human operators can perform many more kinds of tasks.
Greater pollution: Machines use various kinds of gases, chemicals and fuels in order to run, and they also use a lot of electrical power. This can lead to a more polluted workplace.
Big upfront investment: Companies will need to invest substantial sums of money in order to purchase automated machines. The costs can fall anywhere between a few thousand dollars to over a million dollars in some cases.
More unemployment: An increase in automation means human jobs are lost. Large companies need to be mindful of the impact this could have on the local economy and the company’s reputation where they’re based.
Related costs: These can be fairly unpredictable, and if a company is not careful, could actually exceed the cost savings benefit of having automation in the first place. Such costs include things like R&D, preventative maintenance, repairs and training costs.
The disadvantages show that automation shouldn’t be embraced without serious consideration first. Automation may or may not be the right fit, depending on your manufacturing operation specifics. Companies need to calculate if such a move would ultimately prove profitable, and also when it would become profitable, considering the startup costs.
However, in most cases where the operation is housed in a large enough facility, automation proves to be worthwhile.
Regardless if you are producing on a small or large scale, efficiency is paramount in running a successful manufacturing business. Pall-Pack has served the manufacturing industry for more than 40 years providing state-of-the-art solutions aiding both workers and business owners alike, succeed.