Manufacturing automation is the practice of putting control systems in place, to operate processes within the manufacturing environment. It is becoming a reality for more and more UK manufacturers today
Covering processes such as working with hazardous materials (e.g. spray painting), intricate electronics assembly (e.g. circuit boards), and dangerous tasks (e.g. welding), automation gives manufacturers more control over their processes, help streamline their operations and keeps workers safely away from high-risk materials and tasks.
According to The Manufacturer's Annual Manufacturing Report, 51% of UK manufacturers already using some form of automation, expect to redeploy existing staff to perform more profitable roles within the organisation.
This means that contrary to popular belief and industry fears, manufacturing automation is bringing opportunities into the industry. A skilled, creative and innovative workforce is needed to manage and operate automated manufacturing systems.
In short: the robots are not taking over our jobs.
Along with advanced manufacturing activities like cloud computing, 3D printing and augmented reality, manufacturing automation is part of what makes up Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 is the concept, and implementation, of smart, interconnected factories. Manufacturing using data and technology to make vast leaps in productivity, accuracy and production. According to the report, 23% of UK manufacturers are already implementing Industry 4.0 tactics, and a further 62% are planning to move to Industry 4.0 soon.
Manufacturers are using Industry 4.0 tactics and procedures to make plants more efficient, with faster and more accurate manufacturing processes. Innovative Industry 4.0 systems are being implemented to make manufacturing more intelligent, with advanced demand forecasting made possible by AI (Artificial Intelligence), machine-learning, and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technology.
Marketing automation and Industry 4.0 are also making manufacturing environments safer and more pleasant places to work.
Gone are the days when manufacturing or 'working in a factory' was a low-skilled, dead-end, boring career option. Today, manufacturing calls for both academic knowledge (particularly in maths or sciences) and more vocational training. Increasingly, the manufacturing industry in the UK is recognised as a career path offering well-paid, rewarding and upwardly mobile options.
We predict an even bigger shift towards manufacturing automation and Industry 4.0 in the future for the UK manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are moving towards the use of advanced ERP and MES solutions, like IQMS, which has been designed specifically for the manufacturing industry.
Download the full report from the manufacturer here, and find out more about how you can make your manufacturing processes and systems more efficient and productive by implementing manufacturing automation and working towards an Industry 4.0 structure, here.