We hear every day about how automation is driving every industry. For businesses that produce goods, the idea of automation elicits images of complicated robots replacing human hands. That’s certainly a possibility for many businesses, but robot manufacturing and assembly represents a massive investment. In many cases, you have to fund the research and development necessary to design the right robot for your work in the first place. Fortunately, there are smaller-scale and more affordable approaches to automation that can still bring sharp returns with a much smaller initial investment.
The biggest drawback to robots is their limited range of applications. That may change in the future, but right now the best robots are suited to very few specific tasks. Computers, on the other hand, are the most versatile tools at our disposal. A regular desktop computer is powerful enough to automate large sections of your business. Logistics and data processing can be massively delegated to software. This cuts the need for extra administrative staff and sharply reduces clerical errors and their associated costs. Software automation can apply to finances and bookkeeping, scheduling, shipping, stock management, orders and deliveries, human resources, customer interactions, and security. Every job that can be automated also cuts on training and management costs. The best part is that the computer(s) you may need and necessary software typically run far cheaper than assembly robots.
Another way to look at automation is to think of ways to assist human workers. Many domestic products require precision and creativity in their production that makes human work more reliable and valuable than robot alternatives. Electronic and fabric assemblies are the obvious examples. Instead of trying to replace hands-on workers, you can automate jobs that might take place between human interactions. One of the simplest automations in any facility is the use of overhead assembly line conveyors. Instead of having a person move boxes or pallets from one workstation to the next, you can let an automated conveyor do the work for you. This concept applies to a number of mundane tasks that don’t require sophisticated equipment. Trash and cardboard compactors are easy to overlook, but they still save many hours of labor for a reasonable initial investment. If you carefully analyze the in-between tasks that are necessary to get to your final product, you’ll see boundless opportunities for affordable automation.
Ok, this might feel like cheating, but it gets a similar impact. From IT and security to janitorial maintenance, there are always jobs outside the scope of your business that need doing. Outsourcing won’t always be the most affordable option, but you should investigate it whenever you can. While you may not be replacing jobs with machines, the effect from a managerial point of view is the same. Jobs are done without placing the burden of training and management on your shoulders.
Whether you are looking into assembly line conveyors, advanced robots or some new software, the key to successful automation is targeting the right operations. Getting an expert opinion is never a bad route to make sure you’re going in the right direction.