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Automation

Three reasons why businesses should invest in automation technology

Process automation is one of the most valuable additions a team can make in terms of digital transformation

By Gustavo Sepulveda September 15, 2020
Courtesy: Panasonic North America

As information technology (IT) leaders plan their upcoming fiscal year budgets, there are many investments to consider. However, it’s possible the most important budget to consider is how to support its business’ continuous digital transformation. Whether that means investing in mobile devices for its employees or replacing legacy machine infrastructure, committing to digital transformation is the key to any company’s success. A specific area many businesses are looking into for their warehouse and plant operations is process automation technology, including tools for predictive maintenance.

According to a 2019 Peerless Research Group survey, there is an ongoing push to infuse more ongoing software, automation and robotics into the warehouse. Of the 32% of companies looking to invest in these technologies over the next 12 months, 40% want more robotics and smart planning technologies. Automation is winning over businesses as it has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars as errors and turnaround time decrease. There are many potential routes a company can go when choosing the right automation technology for its worth, but predictive maintenance technologies are a key place to start. While the benefits of process automation vary, there are many reasons why innovating and adapting technology is beneficial to a company, including safety, quality assurance, production efficiencies and more. Here are three reasons why companies should invest in process automation technology, including top advantages such as having a deeper visibility into key technical processes, an increase of operational reliability and the ability to maximize the potential of resources.

1. Clear visibility into technical processes

Organizations are continually looking for ways to gain greater visibility into their operations to make proactive, informed decisions. No matter the size of a company, many are working with a blend of legacy and modern infrastructure as key components to the workflow. Automation technology is what weaves together this infrastructure to make a cohesive and agile system. To gain clear visibility into technical operations, an organization must be prepared for what’s to come. Key decision makers must always be a few steps ahead of the game to execute a desired task with precision. To do so, process automation tools clear the path to efficiency with data-driven solutions for operational accuracy. Implementing process automation is one of the most valuable additions a team can make in terms of digital transformation as it offers wide visibility into operations, which then leverages information for operational reliability and efficiency.

2. Enhanced reliability for smooth operations

Functional optimization of machines is key to meeting customer expectations and delivering a quality product. To optimize machinery, companies must be able to predict when issues may occur. To detect issues, however, companies need to make the shift from reactive to proactive. Instead of correcting an operational malfunction during or after it has occurred, companies need to live in the preventive and predictive mindset. With the assistance of predictive maintenance tools, such as sensor technology and predictive software, operations can run reliably by identifying issues before they happen. Smart technology like this allows a smooth run of show with trustworthy operations to back up manual resources.

Figure 1: The NPM-WX from Panasonic is sophisticated automated printed circuit board assembly equipment. Courtesy: Panasonic North America

Figure 1: The NPM-WX from Panasonic is sophisticated automated printed circuit board assembly equipment. Courtesy: Panasonic North America

3. Maximizing the potential of valued resources

The need for efficiency has never been greater as companies deal with the confines of remote work. When looking at efficiency, there are many driving factors and resources to consider such as existing tools and human capabilities. Companies need to work with what they have, matched with new automation investments, to perform the cleanest of tasks at peak potential. Relying on process automation solutions not only allows companies to better manage inventory with speed and accuracy, but also provides the opportunity to maximize all resources without sacrificing quality. With confidence in smart automation tools, performance capabilities can increase drastically, all while saving on budgets and increasing return on investment (ROI).

Leveraging automation for success

Once businesses understand the benefits of automation technology, they can begin to have key conversations on how to implement. The benefits to having visibility in technical processes, an increase of operational reliability and maximizing the potential of existing resources is vast and can save companies immensely on their bottom line. To prepare for making the investment, companies must study their level of performance and identify its key downfalls in its current workflow, including excess material and downtime. Once those gaps are identified and understood, a plan can be put in place on how to minimize machine downtime and what exactly are the needs of the specific workflow. Once the problem is identified and the plan is laid out, it is then time to invest and reap the benefits of process automation. Whether companies are looking toward artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0 or Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, smart tools for automation will greatly reduce costs and increase efficiencies for businesses across industries. The key to success is to look at your workflow with a holistic view for seamless connectivity and productivity.


Gustavo Sepulveda
Author Bio: Gustavo Sepulveda is process automation business head at Panasonic North America.