Investing in automation for your metal fabrication shop can help increase efficiency and throughput, while improving the overall quality of your products. It can reduce the workload for your employees and change the way you do business. However, automation will cause drastic changes on your shop floor. Before deciding to automate a specific process, there are important factors you should take into account. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important considerations when switching to automation.
1. Impact on Other Processes
One of the most important considerations when choosing whether or not to automate a process is how automation of this process will affect other processes. Automation is likely to speed up the process you choose, impacting the processes before and after during production. For example, automated welding will lead to faster welding processes, but it will require a faster supply of parts and faster finishing processes to avoid buildup. Therefore, it’s important to automate the right processes that will not disrupt other stages of production. It makes sense to choose stages where there is already buildup or stages that are slowing down production to minimize disruption.
2. Monotonous Processes
When choosing which processes to automate, you should consider monotonous processes. Human workers are typically very unproductive when it comes to monotonous processes, as they get bored. Automating this type of process will free your workers up to do work that requires problem solving skills and craftsmanship. Utilize your employees in this way while giving machines the chance to do the more repetitive work. Machines will get this work done more efficiently, leading to more efficient production and happier employees.
3. Stages With Buildup
When choosing which processes to automate, you should consider the stages in your fabrication process that seems to move slower than the other ones. Monotonous processes, time consuming ones, or processes that require a lot of safety breaks will often take longer than other processes, slowing down production. You might find that production is often held up during these stages. Automating these processes will alleviate these buildup issues, increasing the efficiency of fabrication as well as overall throughput. Additionally, when you invest in machines with machine learning capabilities, the machines can assess the production processes, figure out what’s going wrong, and improve the processes to create greater efficiency.
Investing in robotic labor is a large up front cost, so you need to make sure the cost is worth it. If your shop does not have particularly high volume, the increase in efficiency probably won’t make enough of a difference to receive a strong ROI. However, if your shop has high volume, automation will help you produce even more products. If the process in question is valuable enough to automate and you use it enough that increasing its efficiency will increase profits, automation is a good investment. Additionally, if automating certain processes will increase the efficiency of your overall operation and increase profits, it will be a good investment. Because the up front cost is so high, it’s important to make sure that automation will provide a strong ROI.
5. Processes Outside of Production
There are processes outside of production where automation will improve the efficiency of your overall business. Automated customer service and e-commerce are two big areas of automation for fabricators and manufacturers. These processes will help increase the efficiency of your business, allowing you to begin work sooner and fill orders faster. You can also start addressing issues sooner. When considering automation, look beyond your shop floor. Automating business practices can help increase the efficiency of your business, thus increasing profits.
CAMM Metals | CT Metal Fabrication Company
It's crucial to do your research when choosing a metal fabrication, as not all companies are capable of completing the same quality of work. CAMM Metals has years of experience, honing our skills across the board to deliver a quality product and measurable bottom line value to our customers.