Traditionally, manufacturing equipment could only do one task —the one it was designed to do. Intelligent automation is changing that.
Intelligent automation in manufacturing involves using machines that can perform the same tasks repeatedly while also making real-time adjustments in its performance based on changing conditions. Rather than needing a human set of eyes to monitor production, intelligent automation services monitor themselves and initiate self-correction if needed.
But machines—even intelligent ones —won’t deliver their promised results if the human brains behind the operation aren’t making smart decisions. So if you’re thinking of jumping into the world of intelligent automation feet first, here are some tips for a successful leap.
1. Know Exactly Where the Pain Is
Intelligent automation services are a hefty investment. To get the best possible return, you need to go into the process with a clear and honest idea of the issues you’re trying to solve and whether or not IA is the solution.
Some of the more common pain points addressed by intelligent automation services are:
- Slow or unpredictable production cycle.
- Irregular workforce attendance and productivity.
- Manual tasks are risky and result in frequent downtime and injuries.
- Quality of product varies widely, resulting in wasted materials that can’t be sold.
Installing sensors everywhere won’t do any good if you’re not being deliberate about where you’re pointing them. So, perform a thorough audit of your manufacturing process, and be realistic about the variables you can test and control.
2. Partner With Business-Savvy Engineers
One of the key objectives of implementing intelligent automation is reducing cost. So if you spring for a custom automated manufacturing system, your equipment development partner should be able to keep your bottom line in their side-view mirror at all times.
The best engineering partners will collaborate with you to arrive at the best design for a myriad of factors, including the cost of materials, the ever-changing supply conditions, and future maintenance requirements.
3. Don’t Ignore the Data
When it comes to intelligent automation, data will be your best —and most honest — friend. Before implementing your IA service, capture all of your existing data in a data analytics program so you can compare it later to future results. Then, during the implementation process, make sure you’re tracking your progress and seeing marked improvements from past numbers. Tracking your progress by the exact numbers will be the best indicator of how well your IA service is performing and where there is more opportunity for improvement.
Keep in mind that there’s going to be a period of adjustment when it comes to maximizing output with your new intelligent automation services. Use your data to set goals for incremental improvements rather than expecting to jump out of the gate and arrive right at the finish line.
4. Invest in the Talent
Depending on the complexity of your intelligent automation service, you may need dedicated humane expertise to make sure it’s working consistently and at peak performance. Some processes need superior software and tech experts close at hand to responsibly operate an automated manufacturing system. And in an industry where the technology is constantly evolving, employee training might be a regular factor in your automation investment.
Take it in Steps
Lastly, don’t forget that IA isn’t going anywhere. It’s not like you’ll miss the boat if you don’t automate every process today.
Introduce intelligent automation services into your manufacturing process in steps, starting with one process and then introducing more as you develop best practices for efficient implementation. Once you prove the value of automating one process, it will be easier to find the funds and resources for automating others.
Looking for intelligent automation services? Learn how Summit Engineered Automation can help!