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Automation shouldn’t be a Silver Bullet

April 5, 2022

Supply: Jon M. Quigley | Worth Transformation LLC

There isn’t a silver bullet.

Companies are continually beneath price pressures, this contains manufacturing.  Materials and labor price generally is a important price within the product.  We use worth engineering strategies to make sure that materials prices are as little as we will whereas nonetheless assembly the efficiency and high quality targets of the shopper and the group.  Apart from the labor prices, automation can enhance high quality.  I shake after I hear individuals use the phrases at all times and by no means.  Individuals are not that repeatable; automation can result in a really repeatable consequence if carried out appropriately.

Automation is often not an all or nothing proposition.  It’s attainable to automate a few of our manufacturing line and nonetheless require individuals in help of the manufacturing line.  The extent of funding to automate balanced in opposition to the extent of human expertise accessible to maintain the manufacturing line working.  Up entrance funding of capital, juxtaposed in opposition to hourly charge to work the road, and each typically exist. That’s the place issues can turn into troublesome.  We might consider that automation is the savior for lowering the related labor prices, however until the road is totally automated, we’ll nonetheless have individuals working the road.  This will current some challenges.

Trendy strains aren’t solely automated, however can even carry out the measurements, not simply on a number of the elements, however all of the elements and mechanically.  This reduces the cognitive and bodily load upon the crew members. That is maybe a very good factor, however doesn’t assist with regards to participating the crew.  I’ve heard managers say simply this, and is without doubt one of the causes for writing.

Have you ever ever been a part of a crew? I don’t imply what most confer with as crew, however these uncommon occurrences after we are completely engaged and extra importantly, so too our crew mates.  In case you have had these uncommon moments, you perceive the facility of crew engagement.  A enterprise makes progress not by expertise, however by the creativity and expertise of the crew members.  It takes these items to find out the most effective strategy to automation.  No downside right here.  Nevertheless, what occurs to the extent of engagement for these remaining on the manufacturing line?  I’ve been excited by worker engagement for years now, a very good place to view worker engagement over time, is the Gallup Office Engagement.  I’ve been following this ballot for a few years, and a few of that is fairly scary.  Their ballot breaks down into the three classes under[1]

  1. Engaged – work with ardour and emotionally connected to group. Producing new concepts and constant efficiency to maneuver the group ahead.
  2. Not engaged – put their time in, however no ardour or power into their work.
  3. Actively disengaged – sad and resentful, they unfold negativity inside the group.

Lack of engagement limits the accessible creativity and expertise; this isn’t the best way to steady enchancment or aggressive benefit. 

Workforce members would not have the identical demand for his or her consideration on the manufacturing line as these strains which can be largely handbook.  This discount of deal with the manufacturing line ought to be a very good factor in that it offers time for our crew to discover different enhancements and inventive concepts.  But in discussions with managers of producing strains we discover that protecting the crew engaged to be troublesome.  Diminished stress on account of a excessive diploma of deal with the road, ought to make it attainable to enhance the group at massive.  It’s in everyone’s finest curiosity to seek out methods to have interaction our crew members past the main focus of the automated manufacturing line.

It’s not in our organizations finest curiosity and longevity to have unmotivated expertise.  The extent of automation of the manufacturing line might place limits the quantity of crew engagement sustaining a producing line.  If the road shouldn’t be extensively automated, we might be able to enhance it by the creativity and expertise of our crew, engagement.  If we will enhance the road, we will use a bunch of strategies and develop a tradition of steady enchancment fixed studying.  If the road automation is important however not totally, we will focus the expertise supporting the road on different areas of the group.

  1. Operations enchancment (logistics)
  2. Course of enchancment
  3. High quality enchancment
  4. Worth Stream Mapping
  5. Worth Engineering (or different product / course of price enchancment)

The strategy needn’t be any of those, or some other formal regiment. The purpose is to discover a motivating goal, and develop an atmosphere that won’t solely enable, however worth crew exploration and studying.  In truth, there are good arguments for moderating the formalism, making simpler for the crew to discover options.  If elevated engagement might be obtained by some home-grown strategy that would be the finest answer.

Competitors doesn’t finish as a result of we now have automated our manufacturing line.  True opponents are continually striving to bettering.  Growing a line that balances the capital funding together with the labor burden at time t=0 (begin of producing) doesn’t essentially imply the tip enhancements.  It is a truth to which suppliers to the automotive Unique Tools Manufacturing (OEMs) are all too conscious.  From expertise, OEMs go to their tier 1 suppliers and “request” price reductions yearly.  Additionally from expertise, these decreases in sale worth are sometimes contractual obligations.  Even when the manufacturing runs are 10 or extra years lengthy with little or no extra investments put up launch.  Steady enchancment doesn’t finish when we now have automated the road.  Creativity doesn’t come from automation, however from our crew and steady exploration.  The on-going concern is finest served not by an over reliance on automation, however the expertise, creativity, fixed studying, and engagement of the crew members.  Not apathy.

Jon M. Quigley PMP (204278) CTFL is a principal and founding member of Worth Transformation, a product improvement (from concept to product retirement) and price enchancment group established in 2009. Jon has an Engineering Diploma from the College of North Carolina at Charlotte, and two grasp’s Levels from the Metropolis College of Seattle in addition to two globally acknowledged certifications. Jon has greater than thirty years of product improvement and manufacturing expertise, starting from embedded {hardware} and software program by verification and course of and mission administration. Jon has received awards such because the Volvo-3P Technical Award in 2005 happening to win the 2006 Volvo Expertise Award.



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