As a business owner, you may have heard about workplace automation before, and how it’s been adopted by companies all over the world as an efficient solution that enhances business productivity while also lowering costs in the long run. If so, and you find that kind of value proposition tempting and worthwhile for your own business, then it might be something to consider as an ongoing business strategy.
However, before you get too invested in the idea, there are some questions you need to ask yourself in order to figure out if automation is right for you and your business. By doing so, you can have a better idea about what kind of workplace automation your operations will require, and you will also be prevented from making impulsive automation technology purchases that might not serve to help your business much at all, or even possibly put you in dire financial straits.
Question 1: Are your increasing labor costs on track to outpace your profits?
Let’s not mince words about it: workplace automation technologies can be expensive, even in the most modest and conservative of implementations. From the simplest conveyor belt and pick-and-place packaging installations to the more complicated industrial robot assembly line setups, the cost of workplace automation can go anywhere from thousands to even millions of dollars. It’s an up-front investment that even relatively big enterprises may find hard to swallow or justify.
With that said, human labor costs can easily outstrip any kind of up-front payment that automation technologies might incur. Not only does the company have to keep paying out salaries to each member of their employee workforce every month, they also have to keep a lot of related costs into consideration. These costs include health benefits, food allowances, medical insurance, hazard pay, and many more. There’s also the fact that your employees going on leave—either due to workplace injuries or sickness—could result in even more money lost due to decreased process efficiency and increased production downtime.
So, if you’re in a situation where your labor costs are becoming increasingly difficult to deal with, then work automation can definitely serve you well. Some of the most technologically advanced industrial robot assembly line setups, despite their substantial cost, can drastically improve the efficiency and production rate of your manufacturing business.
Meanwhile, automation technologies such as Cartesian robots equipped with precision linear stages minimize costly product recalls due to quality assurance issues by adding an extreme amount of precision to the manufacturing and inspection steps of your production process. Reliance on precision motion components ensure that the precise results are also easily repeatable no matter the volume of expected output.
Question 2: Are you finding it hard to keep up with the competition?
Today’s business world is a hyper competitive one. Not only do you have to contend with similar companies offering the same products and price points as you—often with the same selling attributes that attract your regular customers—you’ll also have to consider those that may be established in other countries where labor is cheap and regulations are looser. Any company will find it hard to keep up with such stiff competition, and could find themselves left behind the pack before too long.
If you find that this applies to you, then automation is a clear option that you might want to consider. While you may find the initial expense painful to bear, integrating automation technology to your workflow will quickly pay for itself thanks to the added precision, productivity, and efficiency it brings to your manufacturing process. This, as well as the savings you will inevitably receive due to a reduced employee headcount, will enable you to sell your products at lower and more attractive price points while still keeping the same standard of quality.
Question 3: Is the demand for your product getting out of hand?
Another question that you need to consider before adopting automation technology is this: is the demand for your product increasing to the point that you’re unable to adequately replenish stocks? While there are certain ways to resolve this without automating your business processes, these could prove expensive and even hazardous to your employees in the long run.
For example, if you demand longer hours and increased productivity from your human labor force, the incidence of employee absenteeism due to workplace injuries, accidents, or sickness may increase. This could result in decreased productivity and even increased expenditure, especially since you’ll have to deal with medical insurance or health benefit payouts. What’s more, you may even face litigation attacks from opportunistic employees looking to extract a fat settlement from you, using trumped-up accusations of being overworked or suffering in an unreasonably demanding work environment. The same cost risks can stem from mass-hiring new employees in order to keep up with the demand.
Clearly, automation is your answer here. The increased efficiency that automated assembly lines can bring to manufacturing and production companies cannot be overstated. Integrating such technology to your workflow can easily cut turnaround times in significant amounts, allowing you to increase your production without additional ongoing costs and risks.
Question 4: Does your production process require an increasing amount of precision?
If you’re in the electronics industry, then you should be more than aware of the trend of newer product iterations having sleeker and slimmer profiles. This obviously demands a higher amount of precision and engineering, specifically due to the fact that there’s going to be less and less room to fit complicated technologies and components within the bodies of electronic products. What’s more, with customers expecting more features and functionality from newer versions of their gadgets, manufacturers are forced to cram in even more electronics within that already shrinking space real estate. Any assembly worker, no matter how talented or steadily-handed, may find such demands impossible to keep up with or even tolerate for too long.
Once again, workplace automation can save you in this regard. With robotic technologies becoming increasingly as advanced as the gadgets they make, manufacturing techniques that are precise down to microscopic levels are quickly becoming the standard. This same technology can also help with quality control for highly advanced and compact components. Integrating such tech into your production line can help you easily meet the demand for more precision, future-proofing your business for years to come. What’s more, the very nature of automated technology means that such precise results, whether in production or quality control, are highly repeatable and efficient.
Workplace Automation Is Technology’s Answer to Increasing Business Demands
To be completely fair, not all companies are fit for automation. If your company is a small one that relies on highly personalized products tailored for a specific client base’s specialized tastes, then you might not have much use for automation. The same goes for companies that rely heavily on human interaction for their products and services. However, if you say yes to all the questions listed above and find that the upfront investment is something you can justify, both to yourself and your staff, then automation could be the right direction for your business—one that leads to increased efficiency, profit, and growth.