Automation has become a game-changer for the manufacturing industry. The latest manufacturing trends confirm that manufacturers are increasingly investing in automation as it boosts productivity and flexibility, reduces operational costs, and improves workforce safety. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global industrial automation market size is expected to reach $395.09 billion by 2029.
However, industrial automation has its fair share of challenges. Lack of strategic planning and unavailability of experienced automation professionals negatively impact plant operations, affecting business growth and revenue.
Read on to understand the different types of manufacturing automation and how each can simplify various processes to help manufacturing companies grow their revenues.
4 Types of Manufacturing Automation
- Tech Automation
Tech automation uses advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, process intelligence, and more to automate complex processes and optimize operations with intuitive tech tools.
Modern manufacturers rely on demand-forecasting tools to predict the demand for a product for a certain period. They also use CPQ for manufacturing when generating complex quotations for customers and suppliers.
- Fixed Automation
Fixed automation— commonly known as hard automation— usually carries out a predefined sequence of tasks to produce a single output, and is designed to carry out just one function.
For example, a company manufacturing a large volume of a single part leverages fixed automation to ensure that the system performs the process expertly.
- Programmable Automation
Programmable automation is designed to perform several functions to produce multiple items in a short period. This type of automation is ideal for batch production involving high-volume products belonging to various categories. It requires reprogramming the system/solution to create different products.
- Flexible Automation
Flexible automation is designed to adapt to different tasks and product designs. It serves as a middle ground between fixed and programmable automation and simultaneously is ideal for low to medium-volume productions.
5 Areas in Manufacturing That Automation Can Simplify
Raw material procurement is a crucial function for most manufacturing companies. However, the process of creating purchase orders manually can be time-consuming. Dealing with multiple raw material categories, finalizing the right quantity, and choosing preferred vendors can all be daunting tasks. These issues can potentially cause delays in the production process. leading to hefty financial losses.
Automation has transformed the entire procurement process allowing manufacturers to source and acquire raw materials for production without any hassle. With the help of automation, the entire procurement process can be streamlined to searching the suppliers, comparing prices, and releasing purchase orders while ensuring 100% accuracy.
Leveraging automated procurement tools helps in identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the procurement process and helps to make informed decisions quicker. It also helps to reduce procurement costs as well by identifying cost-saving opportunities, providing intelligent market insights, and helping negotiate the pricing with the suppliers.
By optimizing the procurement process, these automated tools help source quality raw materials at a cost-effective pricing that will in turn reduce production costs and increase a company's revenue.
Using automation in the production process helps in automating repetitive tasks and streamlining them to deliver astonishing results. Utilize various hardware and software automation tools to achieve increased control over various production-related processes and boost your company's profitability in the long run.
Leverage hardware automation tools such as assembly lines, conveyor systems, and robots to carry out repetitive, difficult, or dangerous activities boosting the efficiency of the production process. Run automated production lines 24/7 with the help of minimal human labor and increase your production volume significantly.
As these tools are designed to operate at higher speeds, you can reduce the time required to manufacture your products and introduce them to the market. They also offer greater precision to the production process and reduce defect, keeping the product quality intact at all times.
Use software automation tools to monitor the progress of the production process and plan a production schedule for the manufacturing facility to create finished products within the scheduled timeframe. These tools will ensure collective planning and proper resource allocation to build effective production cycles thereby increasing on-time product deliveries.
Production process automation helps increase production capacity without increasing labor costs, reducing reliance on human labor and ensuring safety while working on heavy machinery. Automated software tools increase process efficiency and boost team productivity.
Automate your production process with the necessary hardware and software tools to guarantee the manufacturing of high-quality products at lower costs and boost your company's revenue.
Automation helps you improve operational efficiency by digitizing manual processes, offering real-time visibility into the production process, and more to optimize performance, reduce costs and boost profitability. Automation allows you to introduce lean manufacturing principles to your existing processes for better operations and continuous improvements.
Leverage automation tools rely on quality improvement methodologies like Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma to identify the inefficiencies in the production process and eliminate them. Utilize enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to gain insights into real-time data about the production process, inventory levels, supply chain activities, and other performance metrics. This helps to identify challenges and bottlenecks in order to make data-driven decisions, increase production capacity and boost revenue.
#4. Quality Assurance
Automation empowers you to streamline the inspection and testing of products and transform your quality assurance process by identifying and addressing the quality issues in your products before they can become problems. This eliminates the production of defective items and reduces the waste of time, effort, and finances.
Leverage automated inspection systems that employ advanced technologies like computer vision, image analysis, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to spot the defects in the manufactured products, thereby eliminating the need for manual inspection altogether. Improve the overall quality of products by examining them and detecting the defects or inconsistencies that may be difficult to identify with the human eye.
Early detection of defects can save you from huge losses allowing you to fix them immediately. . The earlier you identify a defect, the less expensive the repair costs and manufacturing losses are.
Automated quality control relies on image analysis technology and guarantees an outstanding quality of products. It reduces the time taken to conduct tests of the manufactured products, promising premium production output. The data captured by these systems can be assessed to identify the flaws in your production process leaving huge scope for improvements. It also aids overall business growth and contributes to boosting revenue.
#5. Supply Chain
Supply chain automation can help increase the efficiency of your supply chain operations by digitizing the manual processes and facilitating seamless data collection and analysis. It automates time-consuming manual tasks, like document-processing and supply chain tracking, and monitors inventory levels to streamline workflows and lower operational costs. Gaining real-time visibility into the supply chain helps to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies to implement solutions that increase overall efficiency.
Automating the data entry process using optical character recognition (OCR) technology can help process all types of documents including purchase orders, shipping bills, inventory lists and invoices in less time without any manual intervention. Simplify warehouse operations using collaborative robots, automated vehicles, smart forklifts, and more for effective warehouse management.
Invest in transportation automation solutions like automated guided vehicles (AVGs) and drones in combination with transportation management software to streamline the movement of heavy objects, raw materials, and finished goods within a manufacturing facility.
Supply chain automation also transforms the order fulfillment process for quicker order processing and shipping to improve order accuracy, boost processing speed, reduce shipping errors, and update inventory levels in real-time. It also streamlines your entire order-to-cash process and speeds up your revenue cycle.
Manufacturing automation introduces flexibility in the shop floor processes and improves overall efficiency by focusing on minimizing operational costs, reducing waste, and improving product quality to grow revenue while ensuring profitability.