It’s the hot topic of the 21st century: automation is here to stay and ready to steal our jobs. But is there substance to the scaremongering? The reality is, with automation comes impressive capabilities, as industries move forward at unprecedented rates and we discover efficiencies that only serve to improve our outputs.
So, how is it precisely that automation will benefit the lives of those in the manufacturing industry?
Replacing the Mundane
There are many repetitive, mundane tasks that require the same process to be repeated, over-and-over. While humans can carry out such functions, there is always the risk of error through either loss of concentration or a simple slip-up.
Any task that has no deviation in the process, however, is primed for automation with robots now easily programmable to pick up predictable jobs. Moreover, robots have no need to sleep or take a break, giving manufacturers 24-hour efficiencies, should they require such a production run.
Removing the Dangers
Not only can automation replace that which is repetitive, but it can also remove the risk from workers’ daily routines. Handling extremely hot items or having to carry out tasks with either harmful or hazardous product is common-place in many factory environments. But, why risk your workforce when a machine is equally adept at carrying out the process?
One of the massive wins in automation is the predicted growth in productivity, with some estimating a value-add of upwards of £1 trillion to the global economy in just five years – all thanks to connected, smart factories. With labour costs going down and productivity rising, coupled with increased uptake and improvements in software, these are phenomenal tailwinds for the manufacturing sector.
Additionally, removing manual touchpoints can also increase product quality, as demonstrated by Tyrells. Automated processes reduce the risk of ‘broken crisps’ – a fear every consumer harbours when their packet of fried veg is little more than a bag of beetroot dust. Product improvements will further spur category growth.
No Such Thing as a Robot Labour Shortage
Much has been made of worker shortages following the political fallout of Brexit, but not if the robotics industry has anything to do with it.
The advent of the robotic workforce stretches far beyond the reaches of the warehouse as vineyards are starting to explore the possibilities of automated grape harvesters. Leveraging virtual reality technology and human-operated systems, labour concerns may well be a thing of the past, and sooner than one might imagine.
One of the most significant opportunities in automation lies in the vast swathes of data generated in a continuous cycle. As manufacturers pursue ever-greater efficiencies, they remain constrained by what they know.
Thanks to computer-managed packaging lines, Dawnfresh not only has higher quality control over the end-product that leaves their facility, but they also have a stream of insights that allow them to reach ever-higher levels of production. Not only are they able to guarantee compliance with stringent retailer packaging requirements, they are also increasing output – dual wins for a relatively modest investment.