Streamlining Manufacturing Jobs and Operations with Automation

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
June 18, 2024
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Automation boosts productivity, morale, and efficiency for small and midsize manufacturers. Learn more about how to implement automation and its benefits from this article by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center.

Automation has many benefits for small and midsize manufacturers, and in today’s competitive job market, augmenting your workforce is a big perk. Automation, in general, enables machines to perform functions with minimal to no human intervention. Whether you use cloud-based software to analyze data or employ robotics equipment to make work easier and safer for existing staff, automated tools can boost productivity and morale across your organization. Below, we explore four common applications of automation that Michigan manufacturers can leverage to improve quality and efficiency and enhance the work—and workplaces—of human employees.

Predictive Maintenance: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) refers to a network of sensors and other devices that gather and share data about a manufacturing process. In an industry where equipment failures can, at best, lead to costly downtime and dissatisfied customers, and at worst, put employees in danger, technology can proactively identify risks and facilitate repairs before failures occur. Recognizing and fixing anomalies proactively can also extend the life and improve the performance of high-value equipment.

Materials Movement: The movement of supplies, raw materials, and finished products has always been a challenge in our industry, and for generations, humans have been tasked with lifting, pulling, or otherwise transporting large, heavy, and dangerous objects throughout warehouses and factories. Conveyor belt systems were one of the first forms of industrial automation and continue to be refined by advanced technology. Today, autonomous robots join automated conveyor systems in performing transportation functions, from mobile carts that can be programmed to traverse facilities to machines that can help humans safely load products into trailers, or insert raw materials into tooling machines. These innovations enhance safety, reduce repetitive strain, and increase efficiency—a win-win for companies and employers alike.

Quality Control: In addition to monitoring machines, the Industrial Internet of Things can provide crucial insights into the quality of products from start to finish within a factory. Smart sensors and cameras paired with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software can inspect items, extract data about their condition, uniformity, and other characteristics, and analyze and share this data with human users throughout the production process. This helps people avoid repetitive tasks, improves efficiency, and enhances quality by both identifying defective products and gathering and storing data for further analysis and trending.

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Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan's small and medium-sized businesses to compete and grow. Today, we are celebrating 30 years of building super highways of competitive success for our clients, where there were once only slow and lonely dirt roads. Now, we stand ready to face the future with bountiful optimism, focused purpose, strong determination, legions of support staff and inspired creativity.

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