Manufacturing is one of the biggest industries worldwide. It is a key part of almost every sector from energy to construction, crafting the technology and tools that enhance our quality of life.
In recent years, digital developments have been introduced to streamline traditional manufacturing methods. This automation is safeguarding the future of manufacturing by increasing productivity and improving health and safety.
The challenges of the manufacturing industry
The main challenge of the manufacturing industry is keeping employees safe. With a wealth of chemical and physical risks, factories are hazardous environments where accidents often occur.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure onsite safety and protect workers against common injuries. These range from minor lacerations to life-changing loss of limb which could lead to amputation claims if the accident was preventable by the employer.
Due to the nature of the industry, most manufacturing will always require some human involvement. Whether this is simply quality control or actual handling of tools, it means that harm cannot be completely avoided. However, there are ways that automation helps to reduce risk.
Automation also helps to tackle secondary challenges such as keeping up with demand, recently affected by the global supply chain crisis, and maintaining consistency in terms of production.
Automation in the manufacturing industry
Automation in the manufacturing industry is the implementation of systems, tools, and AI technology to perform repetitive and/or dangerous tasks.
With fixed manufacture where many identical products are produced for long periods of time, this looks like pre-programmed machines which deliver consistent precision at speed. An example of this is the robot arms used on the production line of Tesla cars.
Programmable manufacture requires a degree of adaptability as there are more likely to be frequent changes to product specifications. Thanks to the development of the Internet of Things, smart machinery can be connected to an online system for quick and easy re-programming and updates.
Flexible manufacture needs a human helping hand, but the burden can be significantly reduced using automation. This could be as simple as using a computer-operated crane to lift heavy objects.
The benefits of automated manufacture
Removing or reducing the need for human involvement is one of the key benefits of automated manufacture. This helps to minimise dangers and ensure excellent health and safety practices.
It also reduces the amount of downtime in the factory, maximising production without employees having to work overtime. This boosts productivity while cutting costs, every company’s goal.
Combined, these major advantages will help to safeguard the global manufacturing industry and ensure continued success for years to come.
The risks of automated manufacture
There is of course an element of risk in automated manufacture.
Automated systems can break down or be hacked into, and it will take human intervention to fix the problem. Using AI technology and computer programming may make workers more complacent when handling heavy machinery.
However, it cannot be denied that so far, the advantages outweigh the potential risks.