The entire world has been making a push towards complete digitalization for decades. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has pushed things into overdrive. Businesses had to find new ways of getting their products to the right customers, so many of them moved from traditional methods to a digital environment.
The manufacturing industry is leading the transformation. Most successful manufacturers have already introduced industrial automation software into their operations to reduce costs and increase revenues. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, and Big data can work together to provide manufacturers with some incredible features that redefine the industry as we know it.
Why Is Automation The Way of The Future?
Automation has been a part of industrial manufacturing for decades. The automotive industry is one of the leaders in the field, but the latest industrial revolution dubbed Industry 4.0 brings automation to a whole new level. Instead of requiring engineers to provide the robots with instructions, today’s automation depends on real-time operational data. Manufacturers place small Internet of Things (IoT) sensors across their production lines to monitor machinery and other devices. The sensors generate operational data and send it to an artificial intelligence solution that acts as the brain of the operation.
Once the AI understands how the processes work, it finds better ways to optimize production, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. It also uses automation to reduce human errors and increase accuracy. The same principle is already redefining entire industries across the globe. AI-powered cloud-based solutions are far more affordable and deployable than an in-house solution. Therefore, AI has become much more accessible and is quickly finding an application across many industries and operations.
Digitalization is also redefining production processes, reducing energy consumption, increasing visibility, improving plant safety, and providing many other benefits at all levels of the operation. When compared to traditional manufacturing practices, AI-driven operations produce products of higher quality, have shorter time-to-market, and report having higher revenues.
Manufacturing Automation Benefits
Most manufacturers work in harsh conditions, face huge orders every day, and have to keep up with the rising quality demands. Achieving a higher output while ensuring that the overall costs don’t exceed the budget proves to be a significant challenge. Manufacturers have to face many other problems, such as hiring staff with the right skills, optimizing production, and ensuring that all orders are delivered on time.
AI solutions can help improve operational efficiency in all of these processes, as well as many others. That’s why AI development is currently a top priority for three out of four manufacturers. Industrial automation software can make a big difference in manufacturing by reducing risk and increasing operational efficiency. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to get after adopting automation technologies.
1. Increased Productivity
Over 50% of manufacturers have a hard time meeting rising demands. Some struggle with low-skilled labor. Others face long maintenance downtimes because they use old machinery. Whatever the reason is, an AI-driven solution can help increase productivity through automation. Moreover, since AI systems use real-world data to learn how internal processes work, after some time, they can make accurate predictions that help reduce maintenance costs, downtimes, increase product quality, etc.
2. Reduced Salary Expenses
Automated robots can work 24/7 without fatigue or loss of quality. Modern technologies can help you automate 65% of all time-consuming routine tasks, reducing your needs for human workers. Current estimations say that automation will save businesses over $3 trillion every year. That’s a lot of money that can be invested into new projects and operations.
3. Significant Product Quality Improvement
Technologies such as Digital Twins are designed to help improve product development through realistic testing. Other technologies such as visual inspection sensors are able to almost eliminate product defects throughout all production stages, ensuring that every unit that leaves the factory is flawless.
4. The Ability to Work in Hazardous Conditions
Unlike humans, robots can operate in dangerous, hazardous conditions such as acids, high temperatures, hazardous gasses, etc. Manufacturers don’t have to expose employees to dangerous conditions anymore. That also helps save money and reduce risks in certain industries.
5. Short-Notice Production Orders
Advanced industrial automation software allows manufacturers to plan every project to the smallest detail. The software also helps optimize the entire supply chain without human intervention, making it much easier to complete short-notice production orders with tighter deadlines.
6. Automation of Repetitive Tasks
Most businesses lose efficiency on simple, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks. Data-driven technologies produce a lot of data that can help you improve efficiency. However, crunching vast amounts of data manually would take too much time and effort, so automation can help there too. AI-driven industrial automation software solutions can quickly analyze massive amounts of data and produce insights that will help you improve the operation.
The data can help build better relationships with customers and between team members, improve the customer service experience, lead to better products in the future, and help in many other areas as well.
Manufacturing Processes Affected By Automation
Let’s now take a look at some of the processes where automation makes a huge difference.
1. Research and Development
Product research and development is traditionally very inefficient and expensive. It involves multiple departments, and communication is the main reason behind slow product development. An industrial automation software solution can reduce time-to-market by using virtual simulation software to test products. It can also use generative design and provide an affordable method of product customization.
As mentioned above, AI-driven manufacturing solutions can improve raw material management by automating communication with multiple suppliers. That way, manufacturers always have access to the best raw material prices, get faster delivery times, and improve transparency throughout the process.
3. Logistics and Distribution
Supply chain management is a serious problem for many manufacturers. Keeping up with multiple warehouses and factories and knowing where every product is at any time used to be impossible before AI. However, artificial intelligence solutions today can not only track all stocks. They can also track every package and provide detailed inventory insights.
4. Sales and Order Processing
Managing thousands of orders and ensuring that every package reaches its destination on time is extremely hard. Manufacturers lose a lot of money on poor order processing, but the right AI solution can bring things to a whole new level. Automated order processing improves delivery speed and increases customer satisfaction.
Even though automation has an impact on all kinds of business and manufacturing processes, production is its primary area of application. Put shortly. Automation ensures that every product is made to the best practices. AI systems have a predictive approach to manufacturing. That leads to waste reductions, improved human-robot collaboration, and better decision-making. However, AI also helps improve monitoring and ensures production continuity.
Industrial automation software is completely redefining entire industries even though it’s still in its earliest stages. AI-driven technologies are still expensive, but as cloud-based solutions become more and more available, we expect them to become an integrated part of many different industries and businesses. New SaaS solutions will become available shortly, and the sooner you adopt them, the more success you will have in the future.
Sophie Douglas is a digital marketing specialist and a journalist based in Columbus, state of Ohio.
Her characters are passionate, innovative, and ambitious.
Before becoming a writer for FindDigitalAgency, she was writing short stories, screenplays, and directing short films.