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Automation shouldn’t be a Silver Bullet

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April 5, 2022

Supply: Jon M. Quigley | Worth Transformation LLC

There is no such thing as a silver bullet.

Companies are continually beneath price pressures, this consists of manufacturing.  Materials and labor price could be 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 aims of the client 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 end result if performed appropriately.

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

Trendy strains usually are not solely automated, however may also carry out the measurements, not simply on a few of the elements, however all of the elements and robotically.  This reduces the cognitive and bodily load upon the crew members. That is maybe a superb factor, however doesn’t assist with regards to participating the crew.  I’ve heard managers say simply this, and is likely one of the causes for writing.

Have you ever ever been a part of a crew? I don’t imply what most consult with as crew, however these uncommon occurrences once we are totally engaged and extra importantly, so too our crew mates.  When you have had these uncommon moments, you perceive the facility of crew engagement.  A enterprise makes progress not by way of know-how, however by way of the creativity and expertise of the crew members.  It takes these items to find out the very best strategy to automation.  No downside right here.  Nonetheless, what occurs to the extent of engagement for these remaining on the manufacturing line?  I’ve been all in favour of worker engagement for years now, a superb 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 hooked up 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 way in which to steady enchancment or aggressive benefit. 

Crew members don’t have the identical demand for his or her consideration on the manufacturing line as these strains which might be largely handbook.  This discount of concentrate on the manufacturing line needs to be a superb factor in that it gives time for our crew to discover different enhancements and inventive concepts.  But in discussions with managers of producing strains we discover that conserving the crew engaged to be troublesome.  Lowered stress resulting from a excessive diploma of concentrate on the road, ought to make it doable to enhance the group at giant.  It’s in all people’s finest curiosity to seek out methods to have interaction our crew members past the main focus of the automated manufacturing line.

It isn’t in our organizations finest curiosity and longevity to have unmotivated expertise.  The extent of automation of the manufacturing line could 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 way of 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 critical however not solely, 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 every other formal regiment. The purpose is to discover a motivating goal, and develop an surroundings that won’t solely enable, however worth crew exploration and studying.  The truth is, there are good arguments for moderating the formalism, making simpler for the crew to discover options.  If elevated engagement might be obtained by way of some home-grown strategy that would be the finest resolution.

Competitors doesn’t finish as a result of we have now automated our manufacturing line.  True opponents are continually striving to enhancing.  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.  This can be a reality to which suppliers to the automotive Authentic 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 further investments put up launch.  Steady enchancment doesn’t finish when we have now 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 way of 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 thought 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 way of verification and course of and challenge administration. Jon has received awards such because the Volvo-3P Technical Award in 2005 occurring to win the 2006 Volvo Expertise Award.

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