Controlled automation is one way to drive continuous process improvement. But what do we really mean by controlled? There are two definitions; both of them are important.
Controlled Automation as a Strategic Imperative
First off, let’s look at controlled in the sense of strategic.
Depending on how complex your manufacturing process is, you might have dozens or hundreds of interlocking processes. Many of them can be automated – but which ones will produce a dramatic difference?
In an ideal world, all manufacturing processes could be totally automated.
Under the constraints we have here in the real world, it’s important to focus efforts where they will produce great results fast. Finding those key processes can seem like uncovering the needle in a haystack, but the business outcomes are worth it.
With deep knowledge of your processes and needs, it becomes that much easier.
Controlled Automation as a Technical Necessity
Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin: Control as in interface.
The ability to control your devices is important. After all, your processes are only as efficient as each fixture and piece of equipment allows them to be.
There’s a reason why getting things done “at the touch of a button” is so appealing to people: It reduces ambiguity and puts the focus on results.
Again, in an ideal world we could push a button and get the results we expect from our system every time. Real systems are a bit more complex, but automation gives you the opportunity to streamline processes to utmost simplicity.
That can mean several different things, depending on the application:
- Reducing the need for input by folding subordinate processes into master processes;
- Reducing the need for attention through clear, timely alerts for the machine operator;
- Reducing injury and equipment failure by detecting and responding to “edge cases.”
What’s the secret to controlled automation? Looking at processes, people, and technology in the same complete design or re-design process – understanding how the human factor may push machines to their limits and how machines, in turn, can empower your team.
To learn more, contact Nexus Automation.