Reasons For Automation in Manufacturing

Companies undertake projects in manufacturing automation and computer integrated manufacturing for a variety of good reasons. Some of the reasons used to justify automation are the following:

1. To increase labor productivity: Automating a manufacturing operation usually increase production rate and labor productivity. This means greater output per hour of labor input.

2. To reduce labor cost: Ever increasing labor cost has been and continues to be the trend in the world’s industrialized societies. Consequently, higher investment in automation has become economically justifiable to replace manual operations. Machines are increasingly being substituted for human labor to reduce unit product cost.

3. To mitigate the effects of labor shortages: There is a general shortage of labor in many advanced nations and this stimulated the development of automated operations as a substitute for labor.

4. To reduce or eliminate routine manual and clerical tasks: An argument can be put forth that there is social value in automating operations that are routine, boring, fatiguing and possibly irksome. Automating such tasks serves a purposes of improving the general level of working conditions.

5. To improve worker safety: By automating a given operation and transferring the worker from active participation in the process to a supervisory role, the work is made safer. The safety and physical well-being of the worker has become a national objective with the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. This has provided an impetus for automation.

6. To improve product quality: Automation not only results in higher production rates than manual operations. It also performs the manufacturing process with greater uniformity and conformity to quality specifications. Reduction of fraction defect rate is one of chief benefits of automation.

7. To reduce manufacturing lead time: Automation helps to reduce the elapsed time between customer order and product delivery, providing a competitive advantage to the manufacturer for future orders. By reducing manufacturing lead time, the manufacturer also reduces work in process inventory.

8. To accomplish processes that can’t be done manually: Certain operations can’t be accomplished without the aid of a machine. These processes have requirements for precision, miniaturization or complexity of geometry that can’t be achieved manually.

9. To avoid the high cost of not automating: There is a significant competitive advantage gained in automating a manufacturing plant. The advantage can’t easily be demonstrated on a company’s project authorization form. The benefits of automation often show up in unexpected and intangible ways, such as in improved quality, higher sales, better labor relations and better company image.