Automation is now such a common feature of our daily lives that we barely notice it. In a manufacturing environment, automation not only improves operations, but also ensures the steady flow of product and operational data from the shop floor feeds back through digital manufacturing technologies, improving and refining these automated processes. In other words, the more you automate, the better the process gets.
Let’s take a look at some compelling uses of automation in production and manufacturing processes.
Robotic arms and components are increasingly used for repetitive tasks on production lines. When these are automated, they can actually work more precisely than when they are remotely controlled by a human. That is because they respond intelligently to their immediate surroundings, judging the tiniest distances accurately and sensing problems or foreign objects in their path in fractions of a second. Robots can also be configured in tandem, allowing them to orchestrate process trains and production lines effectively and efficiently.
AR superimposes explanatory information such as supporting technical detail and maintenance instructions onto a person’s real-world view, with this supplementary media displayed on the person’s smartphone, headset or other device. Typically, this means that when the user points their device at a particular product, item of equipment, component, or even written manual, the program automatically pulls up the relevant information they need to progress, using visual or even audio cues. This means the manufacturing team can automate the process of sourcing and extracting information they need to get production moving, without delay and with fewer mistakes.
Your digital manufacturing technology is continually gathering and organizing data from which you can extract valuable insights. This process is automated—and depending on the tools you use to analyze it, much of this can be too. This feedback drawn from your systems, supply chains, production lines, and process trains is a key way that automation in production helps you become increasingly productive over time.
Whereas data analytics helps you make sense of the information you currently have, machine learning goes further by modeling patterns for the future. These AI-driven predictive models continually learn, adapt, and improve on their own as they acquire new data. It’s a powerful, automated process that helps you enhance all aspects of manufacturing, from anticipating emerging performance and maintenance issues to planning production runs around emerging market trends that impact sales demand.
Manufacturers that embrace automation in production are already reaping huge rewards, especially when it comes to cost savings, efficiency, productivity, and safety. These companies are seizing competitive advantage and reducing risk in their business models and operations. Automation is only going to get better and smarter, too.
The more you embrace digital manufacturing technology, the more visibility you will have over every aspect of your production processes, and the more you will be able to combine insights from other departments, such as sales and marketing, into your manufacturing operations. This paves the way for lean, resilient, adaptive manufacturing environments that can respond to all kinds of market pressures and challenges.