A lot of business owners these days are venturing into the world of factory automation. This is because they want to improve their production process and make it more efficient.
However, before you start automating your factory, it is important to first understand what this term actually means. In this article, we will take a look at the definition of factory automation and some of its benefits.
What Is Meant By Factory Automation
From 2018 to 2025, the global market for industrial automation is predicted to develop at an annual compound growth rate of 8.8 percent, reaching approximately 368 billion US dollars. Factory automation is simply a term used to describe the use of machines and automated processes in order to replace human workers in factories.
Practically, it involves the use of robots and machines that can do the work of human beings. In short, it is a process through which employees are replaced by machines.
This means that instead of having employees to do certain tasks, you can have machines to do them for you. Some of the tasks that can be automated by such machines include but are not limited to packaging, assembly and so on.
A factory automation infrastructure typically describes the human workers and process control within an automotive industry factory. The automation infrastructure generally includes the equipment, machines, sensors, controllers, and software that manage the manufacturing process.
What Do You Mean By Industrial Automation
Industrial automation is a process through which machines can be used to replace human beings doing a particular job. In many cases, industrial automation is used when the job is highly repetitive and rather simple.
It simply makes sense to use machines instead of having to pay workers to do these jobs. One of the main advantages of using industrial automation is that it saves money as you don’t have to pay workers for doing the job.
From 2022 to 2032, the worldwide industrial automation market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7%. The industrial internet is a network of machines, equipment, and sensors that communicate with each other to automate processes in manufacturing systems.
Human operators are only needed for occasional tasks, such as maintenance or repairs, while most tasks are carried out by machines. This increases efficiency and productivity while reducing the need for human labor.
What Do You Mean By Manufacturing Automation
According to an Oxford analysis, integrating automation in the industrial business might increase $4.9 trillion every year by 2030. Industrial automation is a process through which automated machinery and robots are used to replace human beings in a factory.
It involves the use of state-of-the-art technology in order to improve production. It is the ultimate goal of most business owners by which they can make their products with very little human intervention.
In short, it means that you can produce more and make more money without having to hire as many workers. This is also beneficial for the environment since you don’t have to burn fossil fuels in order to produce your products.
Benefits Of Factory Automation
Many factories are now using automation systems to help run their automated production lines. These control systems can include industrial robots, which can be used to help control the production line and carry out tasks such as welding or painting.
The use of automation can help to improve the efficiency of the production process and can also help to improve the quality of the products being produced.
1. Reducing Human Error
The first benefit that you can achieve from automating your factory is that it reduces the amount of human error. This is because intelligent machines or robotics can take care of the errors that could have been introduced by a human being.
When it comes to automating your factory, you don’t have to worry about the errors because the robots are always right.
2. Lower Production Lead Times
The second benefit that you will receive when using robotic manufacturing equipment is also a reduction in production lead times. In many cases, when humans do a certain task, it takes them around 10-12 hours to finish it.
However, when you use this equipment, it can be completed in only one hour. What this means is that the production will take less time before it is shipped and sold to the customers.
3. Improved Capacity Utilization
The third benefit of automated factories is also an improvement on capacity utilization. When a factory has been automated or used robotic equipment, it means that there will be less workers in the factory.
This means that you will have more available capacity in your factory as only part of the staff are needed for manufacturing products. This also means that you don’t need to hire as many workers because you are using robots and machines to produce whatever your company produces.
4. Operating Costs
Operating costs are simply the expenses that businesses incur when they hire employees to work for them. When you use robots and machinery in your factory, you don’t need to pay as many employees since you are using robots and machines for most of the tasks instead of humans.
Having the majority of the tasks done by machines means that there is low need for human labor which means there will be low operating costs such as wages and benefits.
5. Productivity Improvements
This is a benefit that can be seen across all industries when it comes to automating factories. It is a process through which businesses can improve their productivity and work in a more efficient manner.
This is because when you have more machines doing the work, the productivity of your factory will increase and you will be able to create more products in a faster manner. For example, if you have 10 workers who can only work for 8 hours a day, your production capacity would be 80 units.
However, if you have 5 workers and 5 machines which can work 24 hours a day, your production capacity will shoot up to 240 units.
6. Improved Safety
One of the other benefits of factory automation is that it improves safety in the workplace. This is largely because robots are precise when it comes to doing their job and they don’t make mistakes like human beings do. This is something that is very important especially in high risk businesses.
7. Improved Flexibility
Flexibility is also an important benefit of using factory automation. This is because when you use this equipment, your business will have the ability to adapt to changes in the market more easily.
For example, if there is an increase in demand for a certain product and you don’t want to sacrifice quality, you can simply use automated equipment to meet the demand. You can also reduce capacity or adjust production when there are fewer orders from customers because of this flexibility.
8. Increased Yields And Cycle Times
Yields and cycle times are strict manufacturing specifications that are used by businesses when they produce a unit of product. It is basically a measure that shows the percentage of how much of the product is left after you have finished production.
The better your yield and cycle times are, the more you will be able to produce per unit of time. In many cases, when factories use automated machinery, they can improve their yield and cycle times as they can make more products without having to hire extra workers or machines.
9. Cost Savings On Parts
The final benefit that you can achieve from using robotics and automation equipment in your factory is cost savings on parts. This is because robots will be able to do most of the tasks that require manual labor or machine assistance so there will only be some machines required for doing certain jobs that require high skill levels.
Disadvantages Of Factory Automation
Flexible automation and improved quality in industrial equipment and production processes are made possible by programmable automation. This technology allows manufacturers to produce products with greater efficiency and accuracy.
1. Lack Of Flexibility
Despite the fact that automation helps a business to be more flexible, it also has its own disadvantages. For example, when you automate your factory or use robots for most of your tasks, your factory will no longer be as flexible as it was before.
This is because now that you are using automated equipment, you won’t be able to make any changes to the assembly line very easily.
2. Increased Investment Costs
One other disadvantage of automating a factory is that it requires more investments in order to integrate automated equipment into the manufacturing process.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to automating factories but this is also true for disadvantages as well. In fact, most companies that have automated factories will have to spend a lot more money in order to obtain this type of equipment.
3. High Maintenance Costs
Another disadvantage that businesses of factory automation will have to deal with is the high maintenance costs. This is because these machines require regular checks and upgrades for them to function properly.
In fact, some machinery in the manufacturing process can be so complex that it requires maintenance every five minutes or even every hour depending on the industry. This can be very expensive if you don’t have a good maintenance team that works in your factory.
4. Loss Of Human Touch
For businesses that continue to use manual labor and machinery instead of robots, there is also a loss of human touch. This is because when humans are involved in the production process, you can adjust the way things are done according to your company’s needs to make sure that you produce better quality products.
However, with automation, there is simply no one to adjust things because the machines are doing all the work anyways. Another disadvantage that businesses that have automated factories will have to deal with is the lack of human touch.
5. Excessive Use Of Machines
One problem that businesses usually face when they start to automate their factories is that they tend to overuse the machines. This is because these companies will see all these benefits and think that they should use automated machinery for all their tasks.
However, the problem with this is that some tasks might be better left for people to do instead of a machine. As a result, you will have to adjust your production process in order to make sure that you are using human labor and machinery at the right amount (not too much and not too little).
6. Lack Of Flexibility In Producing Other Products
Another disadvantage of factory automation is that it can reduce your ability to produce different products. In some cases, businesses that have their factories automated usually reduce their production capacity for different products.
For example, if a factory produces computers and other electronic products, but it is highly automated in the process, it will probably have the tendency to focus more on the production of computers and less on other products. This can be a disadvantage especially if you want to produce more variety of goods in your company.
7. Lack Of Motivation In Employees
Another possible disadvantage associated with automation and robotics is a lack of motivation in employees or workers. This is because when you use machinery for most of the tasks that require skills, your employees will find new ways to show their skills and enhance their performance.
However, this can be a disadvantage if you have an employee who is not very skilled in using machines.
8. Lack Of Diversity In Team Members
Another disadvantage that businesses that automate their factories can experience is a lack of diversity in team members or workers. This is because most factories will mainly use robots and machinery for their production process but they will also have some humans involved as well.
If your company only uses robots and machinery for every task or wants to do so completely, it will be hard to find a person who can match the skill set of your other workers.
Ways To Improve Factory Automation
In 2021, the industrial automation market was valued at US$ 36 billion. When it comes to factory automation, a good idea for business owners is to first observe their manufacturers in order to see how they can be improved.
In some cases, you might need to talk to other expert businesses as well and see what they have done in order to improve their factories and provide better products.
1. Observe Your Employees’ Work Performance
One thing that business owners can do when they are looking for ways of improving the factory automation process is by analyzing their employees’ work performance. This will give you an idea of the tasks that are taking more time than others and which require more skilled labor or machinery.
2. Interaction With Other Businesses And Professionals
Another thing that you can do in order to improve the factory automation process is to talk to other businesses and professionals. In some cases, they might have already been through everything that your company is going through right now and they might be able to offer some advice on how best to improve the production process.
3. Hire Another Company For Consultation
Another thing that business owners can do in order to improve their factory automation process is by hiring another company for consultation. In fact, there are many businesses out there who specialize in factory automation and by hiring them for consultation, you will be able to learn a lot about this subject.
4. Create Your Own Robots And Machinery
You can also improve the factory automation process by creating your own robots and machinery. This is because in some cases, you might need to create them after the automation process has already begun.
However, if you are able to do that before the process is complete, it will be helpful since you will be able to use these machines before they become obsolete.
5. Use An Automated System As A Resource
Another thing that business owners can do in order to improve their factory automation process is by using an automated system as a resource instead of doing everything manually themselves.
The industrial automation market is expected to be worth $75.77 billion by 2032. Although many of the benefits that companies see are true, it is also true that there are some disadvantages to manufacturing automation as well.
Most companies, however, will find ways to overcome these disadvantages. For example, they can also choose to use robots and machinery instead of human labor when they can in order to increase their profits.
Also, business owners who have chosen to automate their factories can make sure that they do so in a way that doesn’t completely eliminate human labor from the production process but rather increases its role in the different tasks needed for producing products.