Manufacturing software can be used to enhance industrial automation. What is industrial automation? It is the combined use of control systems such as computers or robots as well as the use of information technology for handling different activities in the manufacturing process. Industrial automation often replaces human workers and can be used to improve efficiency as well as safety.
Around 34 percent of companies plan to use robotics and automation to improve their supply chain. Within five years, that number is expected to jump to 50 percent or higher.
No Longer for Homogenous Production
One of the distinct changes taking place over the past several years is the move from using industrial automation for homogenous production to adapting it for customizable, small scale runs. It used to be a truism that industrial automation was only good for massive runs of single-type items or single jobs. For example, if all widgets had to be painted green, an automated paint sprayer spraying green paint on the widgets was fine, but if 10 widgets had to be green and 20 blue with the logo stenciled on them, humans had to interrupt the process and complete the custom orders.
Advances in technology and equipment have enabled industrial automation and manufacturing software to adapt to small customized runs so greater efficiencies continue to be added into what was once a laborious and time-intensive process.
Automation: Job Stealer or Job Creator?
One of the long-standing fears in manufacturing is that automation will steal jobs. One machine on an assembly line might replace several workers, and machines don’t need sick days, vacation time, or union wages. They can work 24/7 without fatigue or complaint. According to Oxford Economics and CNBC, by 2030, 20 million manufacturing jobs will replace people with robots.
Machines still need maintenance and programming, and that’s where people come into the picture. Jobs are shifting from piece work to programming, from assembly to maintenance.
With the addition of robots to manufacturing, global GDP will rise, states the report from Oxford Economics. Experts predict automation will add 5.3% to global GDP or trillions of dollars in improved production.
The news isn’t all gloomy. Jobs are being replaced, albeit not a one for one swap, but new jobs are still being created while old ones are lost. With the shift to industrial automation, businesses can make more money.
Adding Manufacturing Automation: Steps You Can Take
Even if full manufacturing automation is beyond your current budget and plans, there are still steps you can take to add manufacturing software to automate processes within your current business.
Take the use of barcode equipment and scanners, for example. Barcode technology has been available for decades and is now ubiquitous in retail settings. Manufacturers can take full advantage of this technology to track equipment, supplies, and orders. It’s a low cost, low-risk way to enter the field of manufacturing software automation and enhance efficiency.
While older barcode scanning software required an investment in specialized equipment, newer scanners are downloadable apps that work on smartphones. Data from these handheld devices feeds into the manufacturing ERP system to help you track everything from raw materials to forklifts. You can use barcodes to track fixed assets, inventory, supplies, and more.
The world of industrial automation continues to evolve and change. Robots will never fully replace people, but they are performing a useful service and ensuring that companies who embrace new technology grow profitably.
For more information about manufacturing ERP software and barcode scanning software, contact Emerald TC today at 678-456-6919.