This article was originally published in The Business News on March 13, 2023.

Automated systems have become essential for manufacturing operations of all sizes, providing efficiency and services to inform strategic decision-making. By leveraging the latest advancements in robotics, analytics, cloud computing and other technologies, manufacturers can automate many tedious and time-consuming tasks and gain access to detailed insights into their operations.

Implementing automated systems can be a big undertaking – one that requires careful planning and consideration.

But, by taking the time to understand the benefits of the technology and how it can be applied effectively within an organization, manufacturers will have the tools needed to streamline processes, improve productivity and gain a competitive advantage.

Automate where it makes sense

To get started, manufacturers should thoroughly assess their operations to determine where automation would be most beneficial. Aspects to consider when beginning this assessment include labor intensity, speed of product delivery, safety concerns, cost savings potential and quality control needs.

It should be noted that investing in automation technology does not have to be an all-or-nothing plan – many organizations are taking a gradual approach, automating specific processes but leaving other manual operations unchanged.

Once a company has identified the processes that could benefit from automation, the next step is to choose which type of automation technology will work best.

Robotics are frequently used because they help to automate simple tasks, such as material handling or machine calibration, so workers can focus on higher-value tasks instead. They provide many benefits, such as improved accuracy, greater scalability and faster task completion times.

Other popular forms of automation include programmable logic controllers, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and cloud computing. When evaluating automation technologies, scalability – which is the ability of a system to grow with the organization’s needs over time – should be taken into consideration. Many scalable solutions also support integration with existing systems and infrastructure, allowing companies to leverage existing equipment and resources while still implementing new automation technology.

Adopt a continuous improvement mindset

As a business transitioning to automation technology, it is important to adopt a continuous improvement mindset. This means automation should not be seen as an end goal in and of itself, but rather as a continual process of improving performance and efficiency.

Continuous improvement requires setting up feedback loops with customers and other stakeholders to ensure any changes are in line with their needs and expectations.

By embracing a continuous improvement mindset, organizations can unlock the full potential of automation technology while driving higher levels of efficiency and performance across their operations.

Empower your employees

Organizations should prepare for a shift in workforce dynamics due to automation. Some jobs may be replaced by automation, while others may require employees to learn new skills to take full advantage of the automated systems.

Companies should make sure employees understand how the new technology works and what roles they can play in its success. This can include providing training and resources for workers who will be operating the new machines directly, as well as those who may have more indirect involvement in preparing materials or data for robotic systems or supervising automated lines from afar via monitoring devices or sensors.

It is also important to ensure workers have a sense of ownership over the new processes, so they feel empowered to suggest improvements or changes when needed.

Enlist the help of experienced partner

Automation provides many advantages, but in order to fully benefit from them it helps to engage a partner company that specializes in automation technologies. A partner organization will be crucial in identifying the technology that may optimize and streamline processes and be dedicated support throughout your organization’s whole automation journey.

By taking these steps, companies are likely to see tangible results that bring value to their operations – in both the short term and in the future – by making processes more streamlined, automated and data-driven.