Top 4 Ways Automation is Pushing U.S. Manufacturing Forward
The United States industrial sector is on the upswing. According to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, September marked the sixteenth consecutive month of economic activity expanding in the manufacturing sector. Federal interest and investment in manufacturing coupled with overall industry growth have many describing us as being in a “manufacturing renaissance.”
While a number of factors are driving the manufacturing boom, there is no doubt that automation has and will continue to play a critical role in the future of U.S. manufacturing. The following examples are just four of the many ways automation is propelling U.S. manufacturing forward:
- Support for innovation
It’s no secret that the key to improving U.S. manufacturers’ global competitive advantage lies in innovation. Greater innovation allows companies to meet customer needs, differentiate themselves, increase their market share and produce new revenue streams. According to a recent IBM survey of more than 750 CEOs, in order to make growth and business innovation a priority, 78% of respondents see the integration of business and technology as the preferred path to meeting their business objectives. Companies can use automation to optimize and streamline operational processes, allowing resources to be redirected to services that support innovation.
- Improved agility and faster speed-to-market
Automation systems give manufacturers quick and easy access to data, allowing them to make faster, smarter decisions and improving operational agility. HMI products offer remote interaction via web browser or an app. Multi-touch interfaces enable workers to execute operations quicker with greater control. In fact, multi-touch commands are executed up to three times faster than those performed in a traditional manner, such as pointing devices or single-touch screens.
Automation also offers greater flexibility and variations in product lines, making mass customization possible. The added flexibility and responsiveness that automation systems provide allow manufacturers to increase their speed-to-market, giving customers what they want when they want it.
- Efficient & Cost-Effective Production
Streamlining automation processes makes production more efficient, reduces defects and drastically cuts waste – all of which allow for serious cost-savings.
Take the example of Bell Carter Foods, Inc. – a fourth-generation, family-owned company that’s been producing olives for more than 100 years. Bob Asmus, project engineer for the company, sites several drawbacks from the company’s manual system, including the amount of labor required and slower loading speed. “With the manual system, we couldn’t run the pouch machine at its full capability,” said Asmus. “We could have added more people, but it was a rather confined area. Seventeen pouches per minute was all we could do in the best environment.”
Since deciding to embrace automation, the company can now produce 25 pouches per minutes. “So far we have improved productivity, which has allowed us to redeploy operators to make other areas of our operation run more efficiently,” said Asmus.
- Role in Reshoring
Manufacturing is being brought back to the U.S. for a multitude of reasons, but there’s no denying that automation plays a role in the reshoring trend. Automation is a critical in keeping U.S. manufacturers globally competitive and competing against low overseas labor rates.
“By retaining manufacturing in the U.S., we keep management, maintenance, and skilled trade operator jobs that would otherwise be offshored,” said Michael Gurney, Co-CEO of Concept Systems Inc. “Manufacturers have the responsibility to invest in automation to keep their factories competitive. They need to be driving for continuous improvement by continually looking for emerging technologies and how they can be applied to make things more efficiently, of better quality, and with less waste.”
By investing in automation, companies invest in the future of American manufacturing. At VEAPS, we provide our customers with intuitive tools that improve processes, keep production costs and time to market minimal, and allow companies to gain a competitive edge. Find out more about our industrial automation, validation and project management solutions or give us a call at 317-550-4320.