First, and perhaps most obvious, industrial automation massively increases the productivity of tasks, processes, and businesses in factories and on shop floors. Processes that once took armies of workers (think about car manufacturing or food processing plants of 20, 30 or 40 years ago) now involve a fraction of that labour – a big consideration in the context of today’s supply woes and the labour shortages that come with slowing population growth in many parts of the world.
But it’s not just about reducing labour costs and getting more done, more quickly. The digitalisation of manufacturing, and especially the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also means increased throughput and avoided downtime as machinery is more efficiently employed and maintained.
IIoT also provides the extra flexibility to adjust output to demand. For example, new open software approaches are more easily upgradeable. That way, if orders change, operators spend less time on reprogramming or re-engineering, which means increased machine availability.
Finally, accurately configured industrial automation systems reduce error and variability and thus boost productivity. Automating repetitive tasks such as stamping, soldering, welding, material handling and packaging yields consistently high-quality products.