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Choosing Your First Automation Project 

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Choosing Your First Automation Project 

 

If you are reading this, you might be considering your first automation project. A lot of manufacturers struggle with concerns that by automating their manual production they are tampering with a working formula, they are taking an unproven financial risk, or that they are betraying the traditional company principles.  

It takes intelligence, forethought, and courage to chart a new path for your business, and some of the most legendary financial success stories come out of taking the initiative with automation. Western Digital heavily invested in robotics and automation for their data storage device manufacturing plants and managed to quadruple their production capacity, reduce energy and water consumption by 40%, and upskill 42% of their workforce without making a single layoff. You’ll achieve similar outcomes with your business if you dedicate your time and choose a seasoned automation integrator to collaborate with. 

 

Minimize risks, pick easy targets 

 

We always warn first time automators that the first automation integration comes with high upfront costs associated with the learning curve. An industrial machine can easily hit six figures, identifying a path to swift return on investment is the fiduciary responsibility of everyone involved with integration from the CEO, to your integration team, to your machine tender. The right choices improve morale through early company-wide buy in, stoke retention when you inform your automation with employee tacit knowledge, and engender company loyalty while boosting your bottom line. You know your business, you know the most unsustainable practices on your floor, assess these targets when choosing your first project: 

 

High turnover tasks

Which tasks have the highest turnover? The Center of American Progress estimates replacing an employee (recruiting, training, equipment, loss of productivity) on average costs your company one fifth of that worker’s annual salary. A highly specialized task requiring higher education, certifications, or complexity might even cost as high as 213% of their annual salary. Your company eats these costs every time your company goes through the process of recruiting, setting up individual interviews with higher paid managers, setting up new hire benefits and onboarding, designing your training methods, training your new employee (usually by borrowing the time of another worker), and evaluating their fit with the company. These jobs typically overlap with the other categories on this list, good automation equipment can even train your operators with guided training

Repetitive tasks

Which tasks on your floor require the most repetition? These tasks often are the most unsatisfying for your labor force and are prone to repetitive stress injuries. Automated robotic machines are not vulnerable to fatigue, they do not get tired by the end of the day, they do not take breaks, can handle boring tasks, and can produce through multiple shifts. 

Hazardous tasks

Which tasks expose your labor force to dangerous chemicals, extreme temperatures, noxious fumes, irritating powders, heavy tools and equipment, or heights greater than 10 feet? Injuries on the worksite can cause permanent harm to your workforce and lasting damage to morale. Sudden injuries can bottleneck your production. Machines cannot get sick, cannot get injured, and can free your workers from conditions people would find deadly. 

Precision tasks

Which tasks on your floor require precision quality and uniform design? Machining by hand comes with risks of inconsistent work and inconsistent speed. Consider which tasks in your warehouse cause the most rework. An automated machine has time tested impacts on lowering rework, maintaining consistency speeds of production, and reducing problems related to variable quality. 

Inefficient tasks

Which task on the floor requires the most shifts, the most workers, and the most involvement of management to maintain quality disproportionate to what you produce? Where are your bottlenecks? These tasks are especially vulnerable to sudden spikes in production related to last-minute orders, catching up after unforeseen or scheduled work stoppages, spikes in customer demand for your products, or regulatory updates. Automation integration can streamline your production, meaning you can redirect the high stress work to your robot and your employees to more meaningful work. 

 

DEVELOP LLC: Automation Education and Assessment 

 

DEVELOP LLC provides custom Automation Assessments before every integration. With our years of integration experience, we know how to create custom robots, engineering solutions, and automation integrations that can increase throughput, consistency, and morale tailored to bring your business to a higher level of competition. We partner with our customers to educate beyond our competitors and stimulate 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 with your succession plan.  

Do you have a story about how automation integration solved bottlenecks, improved your production capacity, scaled your business, or improved morale? Do you have examples of high turnover, inefficient, dangerous, repetitive, or precision tasks that you think might be alleviated by an automation solution? Post your story in the comments!

 

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