Automate Manufacturing Processes During a Labor Shortage


Posted on: September 30th, 2021

The global COVID pandemic caused nearly all manufacturing industries to face challenges without warning. One of them is the massive and sudden reduction in their workforce, which caused costly disruptions and operational impacts ranging from the factory floor to the larger supply chain. And whether employees were laid off, quit, or transitioned to a part-time schedule, these impacts likely had an avalanche effect felt across the enterprise, especially if relying on the performance of manual assembly tasks.

While filling the role with another laborer might solve the temporary problem, it doesn’t provide a permanent solution that can guarantee production or save money, even in another economic crisis. So, whether your manufacturing company is currently experiencing the effects of labor shortages or trying to avoid the inevitable, a surefire way to keep your operations running smoothly without primarily relying on manual labor skills is by exploring automation.

A Labor Shortage Solution – What Automation Can Do For You

While some of the solutions include hiring internally and offering more compelling benefits packages that appeal to young applicants, the most realistic and time-proof option is augmenting your operations with automation capabilities. In fact, it was shown that the manufacturers who had previously invested in technology before the pandemic were best positioned for the challenges of the changing economic landscape, including better adjusting to workforce shortages. This is a growing trend that shows no sign of slowing down, and it’s not too late to adopt. Global manufacturers and supply chain leaders are beginning to see that automation can help maximize operational efficiency, improve flexibility and adaptability, remain competitive, and unlock new revenue opportunities.

What is Factory Automation?

So, what exactly is factory automation, and what does it entail? Factory automation uses intelligent machines to aid in operational processes with minimal human intervention. The overall objective of integrating automation is to sustain or improve operations while increasing production capacity or reducing costs, and it is something that approximately 76% of manufacturers use to improve productivity. However, the added value here is that it also helps to mitigate the effects of labor shortages, as automated processes depend so little on human engagement.

What Tasks Can Be Automated?

While the benefits of automation are likely compelling for many enterprise leaders, manufacturers may not realize just how many tasks they can automate, which may keep them from investing in the first place. For example, it is a common misconception that specific tasks that historically required manual labor, such as assembling ethernet cable ends to the end of a cable line and wire crimping can only be accomplished with manual labor. The truth is, there is no end to what automation can do for you, especially if you find a company that is an expert in creating custom machines like SDC.

From collaborative robots (cobots) to precise pick and place systems, automation and robotics offer countless advantages that span across industries from medical and pharmaceutical to consumer products, automotive, aerospace, and alternative energy. It also spans functions based on what your manufacturing needs are. Instead of being limited to solely automating your production lines, robots can offer a multitude of other skills to alleviate the pressure of workforce shortages, including needs related to inventory, maintenance, or anything else that can improve your manufacturing production.

In fact, for over two decades, SDC has worked with companies to come up with unique, custom, and innovative solutions for a wide variety of automation needs, including assembly and processing machines, test and inspection machines, handling and packing systems, and semi-automated machines.

If manual assembly has been a part of your manufacturing processes for years and it worked well before the national labor shortages, it might not seem worthwhile to invest in automation technology. But, with the potential downstream effects of not investing, and as technology becomes more accessible, it is a risk to avoid adoption, especially if the trends continue where manufacturers cannot fulfill roles despite needing both entry-level employees and skilled workers. So instead, let the experts at SDC help you remain profitable, competitive, and prepared with their expertise in automation solutions across a broad spectrum of industries. Our reliable, long-lasting machines will ensure you have the manufacturing tools you need for long-term manufacturing success, even through economic uncertainties.

Sources

  1. American factories are desperate for workers. It’s a $1 trillion problem
  2. Labor Shortage in Manufacturing and Distribution: How Some Companies Are Addressing Challenges | OroCommerce
  3. 2021 MHI Annual Industry Report Looks at Innovation in Materials Handling
  4. The Benefits of Manufacturing Process Automation – Katana
  5. Why Should You Automate Manufacturing Processes: To Save Money, Make Money Or Both?