A fully scoped automation integration plan targets every element of your business, including workforce adoption. Engaging your workforce in the adoption of the software, engineering, and robotics involved with automation integration is a requirement for ensuring the swiftest return on investment.
The Challenges of Workforce Assumptions
A great workforce has a lot of energy for change. If that energy is not directed towards change, it will redirect itself towards resistance. We have seen lots of progressive changes that have improved our lives in ways that we will never look back, from the way CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines replaced manual mills, to cars replacing the horse and buggy. We take for granted that these things faced a lot of resistance early on. Tackle these assumptions early to guide your integration adoption:
“We don’t have time for this”
Integrating a new piece of machinery into your production warehouse requires time for scoping, training operators, mounting, programming, evaluation, and team restructuring. Production might already be at capacity, every employee working a full shift. Team leads, plant managers, and supervisors need to have confidence that scheduling benchmarks will not prohibit timely compliance with customer orders. They need to know how the implementation works around existing shifts, when and if additional shifts will be needed, and the timeline on completion of the integration. There also needs to be realistic communication that manufacturing needs to temporarily go down by a percentage to support the long-term increased objective. If you can set these expectations early, set reasonable opportunities for additional training and shifts, and explain the worth of the automation, you will mitigate fears of out-of-control overtime and strained capacity.
“I wonder how many of us are getting fired”
The goals of your automation integration should orient itself around supporting your workforce. The best targets for automation in your production involve processes that are dangerous, repetitive, tiring, prone to rework, high volume, low variation, and high turnover. These targets represent the least fulfilling and least desirable work on your floor. Consider the best practices of product development; you invest in testing, generate early customer buy in, invite feedback, and these processes yield a better product in less time. Demonstrate early how automation will provide opportunities for advancement, improve the working environment, require operators, and create new openings with the additional growth. Ask what interests your team, show the new opportunities yielded by the increased growth, and start transitioning them into the new roles early. Direct the energy of your team toward buying in to the new change in this way and you will direct their enthusiasm toward supporting the integration the same way they have supported your business. And finally, if aspects of the automation do replace any employees, be honest and upfront before the change happens.
“There’s no way we can justify the cost”
When an automation integration can easily hit seven figures, it is important to make sure the return-on-investment calculations demonstrate the value of the integration, and this is not something you should limit to dollars. Any integrator will tell you that compared to multiple human operators, the average responsibly scoped automation integration returns on investment in one to five years, depending on the scale of your project and product lifecycle. Once the return on investment is finished the rest of the economic value becomes growth. But the opportunities for growth begin immediately once the machine is fully integrated with your production. An automated machine can make products faster, with higher consistency, without breaks, through multiple shifts. Your team will not be shackled to manual production in the same way, your workforce can redirect their energy towards new clients, more profitable business opportunities, work environment improvements, and innovative ways to leverage a series of new advantages that did not exist before. A customer that obsesses over dollar figures surrenders the exponential value potential from revolutionizing their production technology. Try out our Return on Investment Calculator to see how the basic calculations can justify your project or try out an automation assessment to find the best opportunities for integration.
“We were doing just fine, now we’re changing everything”
‘Change is good’ is a weak platitude. Respect that changes can happen to people against their will like an accident. This kind of change couches itself in loss of control. While a veteran employee wonders if the routines they have established will be changed without their input, a rookie employee is wondering if their job will never be stable. Let your affected employees know what changes are coming, inform them about the things that will stay the same. Provide a clear vision early and open the goal setting to input and feedback. If you can demonstrate they have some control over choices made for the integration plan, they will feel secure. You will also benefit from the perspective of the workers closest to your production process.
DEVELOP LLC understands that communicating early expectations for return on investment, timelines, goals, feedback, and benefits orients your workforce onto the automation integration team. Our engineers, manufacturing experts, and project managers have years of experience moving every level of your workforce as one toward the swiftest return on investment. Tell us more about your project, schedule a virtual meeting, or call (262)-622-6104 to learn more about how we can help you automate your production today.