Industrial companies around the world are implementing manufacturing automation systems to maintain relevance and remain competitive. In a manufacturing sector that is continuously advancing, it is necessary for these businesses to embrace smart technologies.
Automation is the first step for many manufacturers. Transitioning manual operations to a manufacturing automation system model enables companies to eventually utilize even more advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and smart sensors. The end goal is to have entirely automated operations in industrial factories.
With automation usage increasing, some argue that this technology will replace human workers. But manufacturing automation systems actually improve employee jobs. Automation can take on the jobs that human workers don’t enjoy, or that are dangerous for human workers. These jobs include repetitive and dull work that doesn’t engage employees. With automation completing these tasks, workers are able to focus on more high-level work that breeds increased employee satisfaction.
Offering benefits for companies, employees, and the industrial sector, manufacturing automation systems will play a key role in the future of manufacturing.
The Smart Factory
Since automation is often the first smart technology that manufacturers get acquainted with, it also serves as the basis for a smart factory. Smart factories are fully automated manufacturing facilities that do not require human intervention to run production operations. This level of automation uses connected devices and AI to optimize operations. Since the machinery in a smart factory is all interconnected, AI systems can collect data from the production process. The AI then analyzes this data and uses the findings to automatically implement improvements to production.
Aside from optimizing production, AI can also manage machine maintenance schedules throughout a smart factory. While conducting data analysis of production operations, AI systems also note any anomalies. These anomalies could be caused by the beginning stages of equipment failure or possible defects. This data enables AI to use predictive maintenance techniques to create a maintenance schedule that minimizes downtime. Although fully automated manufacturing facilities control operations without the intervention of human workers, maintenance is one area that human workers often still manage.
Though smart factories are fully automated production facilities, that does not necessarily mean the absence of human workers. In the industrial automation settings of the future, even entry level manufacturing positions will require more skilled workers. While manufacturing automation systems complete all of the production line work, manufacturing workers in these types of facilities will manage maintenance and repairs, strategize process improvements, and coordinate logistics. In these ways, automation improves manufacturing jobs for workers while also increasing production efficiency.
The Future of Manufacturing Is Automated
Smart factories are the future manufacturing facilities. As the need for more advanced operations grows, more and more manufacturers will implement automation into their plants. Fully automated production operations can be continuously optimized, especially with the addition of other smart technologies like AI. Though manufacturing automation systems take over production jobs from human workers, they enable companies to upskill those workers to manage more high-value tasks. Implementing automation makes operations more efficient, minimizes production downtimes, and improves employee job satisfaction.
To learn more about manufacturing automation systems and connect with automation suppliers, attend the WESTEC manufacturing technology show.