Author: Paul Henriques in: Plant Automation
Somewhere in history, a person realized that if they left a task up to a process that wasn’t powered by humans or animals, he could do more with less. Thus began the idea of automation. From watermills and windmills to robotic arms and artificial intelligence, automation has come a long way. The new age of machine learning, vision systems, language processing, and networked communication has led us into Industry 4.0.
Automation has gotten to a point where you cannot ignore investing in more automation technology for long without costing your firm in the long-term. Intelligent automation is the cure to increasing labor costs and shortages that improve product quality, if managed correctly.
Managing your intelligent automation requires an automation control system. Ensuring your new tech works well with your old tech and that your staff know how to operate the new tools is a crucial, and often unstated, component of upgrading your processes to newer automated systems.
Like many other concepts, implementing more automation requires a cultural shift in your firm to an automation-first mindset. This mindset has at its core 3 principles:
Start with mapping out the process to simplify each task to see what can most easily be automated. Focus on making or improving the product or process to improve the function, performance, reliability, quality, or cost.
Look to start with automating repetitive and low complexity processes. This “low-hanging fruit” is a great place to start automating systems as they are simple and can build goodwill towards more change with your staff.
Review the process for what technical details are in place to remove any uncertainty as to your capabilities or where you can expand. Focus on what methodologies, designs, techniques, formulas, or inventions you have and can implement.
Remember that automation doesn’t necessarily mean a high-cost, high tech AI tool. Take advantage of your automation tools to augment the existing capabilities of your human workforce.
Start small. You can’t upgrade the whole shop floor in one stroke. Tech implementations can be tricky and if you can start with a process on one business unit, you can then expand to others while having staff that support and have experience with the new automated systems. Ensure you include proper auditing methods to measure the results and see where you can improve. If possible, use multiple methods to test your new processes, such as: modeling, simulation, trial and error, prototyping, etc.
When you are ready to increase your automation in your manufactory, start with simple and easy to replace systems. A good way to get started, is with a centralized automation control system.
In this, future-ready ERP II systems, like OnRamp ERP, can help you start small with items like barcode scanners, mobile apps, form recognition, and other productivity improvements that are built on maximizing the use of automated tools.
Contact us today to ask how we can help you improve your automation and maximize your organizations productivity and profit.