REASONS FOR AUTOMATION - Production and Operations Management

Reasons for Automation in Manufacturing

Following are some of the reasons for automation:

  1. Increased productivity: Automation of manufacturing operations holds the promise of increasing the productivity of labor. This means greater output per hour of labor input. Higher production rates (output per hour) are achieved with automation than with the corresponding manual operations.
  2. High cost of labor: The trend in the industrialized societies of the world has been toward ever-increasing labor costs. As a result, higher investment in automated equipment has become economically justifiable to replace manual operations. The high cost of labor is forcing business leaders to substitute machines for human labor. Because machines can produce at higher rates of output, the use of automation results in a lower cost per unit of product.
  3. Labor shortages: In many advanced nations there has been a general shortage of labor. Labor shortages stimulate the development of automation as a substitute for labor.
  4. Trend of labor toward the service sector: This trend has been especially prevalent in India. There are also social and institutional forces that are responsible for the trend. There has been a tendency for people to view factory work as tedious, demeaning, and dirty. This view has caused them to seek employment in the service sector of the economy government, insurance, personal services, legal, sales, etc. Hence, the proportion of the work force employed in manufacturing is reducing.
  5. Safety: By automating the operation and transferring the operator from an active participation to a supervisory role, work is made safer.
  6. High cost of raw materials: The high cost of raw materials in manufacturing results in the need for greater efficiency in using these materials. The reduction of scrap is one of the benefits of automation.
  7. Improved product quality: Automated operations not only produce parts at faster rates but they produce parts with greater consistency and conformity to quality specifications.
  8. Reduced manufacturing lead time: With reduced manufacturing lead time automation allows the manufacturer a competitive advantage in promoting good customer service.
  9. Reduction of in-process inventory: Holding large inventories of work-in-process represents a significant cost to the manufacturer because it ties up capital. In-process inventory is of no value. It serves none of the purposes of raw materials stock or finished product inventory. Automation tends to accomplish this goal by reducing the time a workpart spends in the factory.
  10. High cost of not automating: A significant competitive advantage is gained by automating a manufacturing plant. The benefits of automation show up in intangible and unexpected ways, such as, improved quality, higher sales, better labor relations, and better company image. All of these factors act together to make production automation a feasible and attractive alternative to manual methods of manufacture.

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