Manufacturing automation involves automating the whole cycle of manufacturing and involves not only the shop floor activities, but also other functions such as: data generation activities, inventory management, shipping, receiving, dispatch, warehouse and distribution processes, SCM, CRM, engineering design, outsourcing and procurement, analyzing and testing, packaging, shipping, as well as accounting functions.
To compete globally, organizations need to deliver high quality products at competitive costs in the least possible time. While humans play a key role in decision-making, they need to be empowered with the right tools to make the right decisions. The fact that just about every aspect of manufacturing is now automated means that the whole process can be done faster and with less manpower. Of course the end result of manufacturing automation generally means better and safer products for the consumers and higher profits for the manufacturers.
With automation in place, time consuming tasks such as: gathering metrics, loading/unloading components on to conveyor systems, packing, generating invoices, checks and dispatch documents, can all be automated by using computer programmable machinery. Extra manual labor is eliminated and systems and robots that do the work much more efficiently and function as long as the power is on have become standard practice.
While component design is a manual and highly cerebral operation, it is possible to provide a library of components that can be quickly modified to develop a prototype. CAD/CAM machines can directly read from drawings and machine the component to the required dimensions. While computers and machines are able to perform most of the work, they still have to be programmed and operated properly, and you have to make sure that the right data is fed into them. This makes analyzing and data acquisition very important procedures in manufacturing automation.
Of course, manufacturing automation is definitely needed in today’s world, but it doesn’t mean that human labor should be totally absent. To run a smooth manufacturing company you need to know exactly where and when automation should be used as opposed to manual labor. And remember that all of the high tech automated equipment in the world won’t help you one bit if it is continuously breaking down. Make sure that you perform proper cleaning and maintenance on all of your automated equipment to keep it in proper running order.