Due to the constant need to increase production while reducing its costs, manufacturers are looking for solutions in the field of automation and Industry 4.0 that will support the operation of industrial plants and thus translate into their efficiency. This trend is confirmed by a report by Deloitte, according to which as many as 95% of managers see that thanks to the automation of processes, their companies function much better.
More than half a thousand managers from 530 leading companies in the world participated in the Deloitte Global Robotics Survey. As many as 95% of respondents confirm that thanks to the implementation of technologies that enable the automation of repetitive processes, their business works better. Companies from the manufacturing sector recorded a particularly high performance.
The market of automated technologies, such as robotic process automation (RPA), is growing at a rate of 20 percent. annually and is projected to reach a value of $ 5 billion by 2024. This is confirmed by the results of the “Intelligent Automation 2019” report, which indicates that since 2018 the number of organizations that have increased the scale of automation implementation has doubled (source: www2.deloitte.com). 8% of respondents indicated that their companies had implemented over 50 automated solutions. However, achieving economies of scale remains a challenge and the fragmentation of processes remains the main obstacle to achieving it.
A lot of space was also devoted to the automation of production in the report “Hand in hand with a robot. How to use the potential of automation in Poland “(source: Przemysł-40.pl), prepared by the analytical company McKinsey together with Forbes. The publication analyzes, inter alia, the impact of automation on the Polish economy and the labor market. According to them, thanks to automation and the resulting increase in productivity, the average annual economic growth in 2020–2030 may be higher by more than 1 percentage point. It also outlines the key opportunities it brings, i.e. creating new jobs and stimulating demand. At the same time, new technologies will help increase productivity, allowing companies to lower prices, increase wages and increase profits (source: mycustomer.world).
What will the industry gain from automation?
Automation in the context of production is the use of devices to automate production systems or processes. Its ultimate goal is to increase efficiency by increasing production capacity or reducing costs. It is also seen as the use of machines to reduce the work done by people. It involves electromechanical systems that are programmed to perform a wide variety of processes. What are the main benefits producers see in it?
Industrial plants are increasingly using automation to increase precision, consistency, and greater operational efficiency. To use it effectively, first you need to properly define your goals — the more specific they are, the easier it will be to adjust solutions to them. Goals such as increasing production, while general, indicate that decision-makers need to be aware of what influences it. Easy and quick integration of sensors and devices that monitor equipment and generate data will provide other additional benefits, such as reducing the number and time of downtime, ensuring predictive maintenance or improving the decision-making process based on data obtained as a result of automation.
Using inventory monitoring equipment can reduce downtime due to inventory depletion. Keeping track of equipment uptime can help reduce downtime by adjusting your workflow to reduce changeover or identify where an investment in more automation would generate a positive return on investment. Monitoring the operation of your equipment will help identify when maintenance may be required or failures may occur. Tracking performance can help you make informed operational decisions and schedule maintenance when it has the least impact on production.
Ultimately, having real-time analytical data for manufacturers can help them predict delivery times more accurately. In addition, automated equipment improves repeatability, which can translate into quality and reduce production variability. Overall, automated monitoring provides a more predictable model for making business decisions while ensuring transparency and access to all information by all interested parties.
Where to start?
How to start automating processes in a manufacturing company? The first step is to constantly monitor the machines, which allows you to collect data, process it and make decisions based on it. This approach gives insight into the operational efficiency of both equipment and personnel, and ultimately translates into automation of processes and increased efficiency in the production hall. This process is facilitated by FitMech system, used to monitor production events and machine performance, based on vibration sensors, which enables easy and quick collection and use of machine data for process automation.
- It should be remembered that the process automation itself is in many cases only the beginning of the general improvement process. In order for the implementation to bring the expected effect, many other factors must often be changed, such as the organization of positions, staff qualifications, and work culture. Obviously, these factors generate a number of side projects that cannot always be easily predicted and specified in the budget and time scope of the project. In my opinion, this is an important issue, also in the case of implementations that are technically “light” and non-invasive for the microsystem of a given production. The operational implementation of our system is quick and non-invasive, but it should be remembered that the tool itself is not everything — each change generates conditions, the fulfillment of which will allow us to achieve the expected results — explains Szymon Arciszewski, co-founder of FitMech.
One step further: lights out manufacturing
The popularity of automation and the awareness of the benefits it can achieve may, in turn, lead to a situation in which industrial companies will be more and more willing to decide to produce “lights-out” (with the lights off). It uses fully automated technology to run a factory with little or no human intervention. While the technology is costly to implement, this method offers many benefits, the greatest of which is maximizing performance to meet increasing demand. In addition, the lights-out method enables enterprises to save energy and reduce operating costs.
A fully automated manufacturing facility can operate with the lights out by eliminating human needs for lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. In addition, robots are the ideal solution for use in hazardous industrial environments that pose a serious risk to workers. At the same time, the goal of the lights-out method is not to eliminate workers. On the contrary — it can facilitate the retention of employees in the company by transferring them to more lucrative and more competent positions.