Assembly line automation is a process that calls for making use of equipment to manage tasks along the assembly line that were once managed by employees. When considering adding some type of automating process to an existing assembly line, company owners and managers must decide which tasks can be automated without adversely affecting quality, how the line may need to be rearranged in order to accommodate the new equipment, and what type of impact the automation will have in terms of saving money while also increasing productivity.
One of the first things to remember when considering assembly line automation is determining which tasks can be automated to best advantage, while avoiding the potential to reduce the quality of goods produces. While automation can often help increase the speed of the line, that speed may come at a cost. This is especially true if the specific tasks and their related steps are not evaluated closely, or are not matched with the capability of the equipment and the software programs that are installed to manage those tasks. Trial runs of the equipment and comparing the results with the units produced using former line methods will often reveal if there is any loss in quality.
Along with monitoring quality, the task of assembly line automation will often involve making some changes in the flow of the line itself. In some cases, tasks that were once performed by two people can be handled by a single piece of equipment programmed to quickly manage one and then the next task in the sequence. This can mean that the line can be reconfigured to take up less space on the production floor, opening the way to add an additional line that increases overall production.
With any move to engage in assembly line automation, the ultimate test is the impact that the automated line has on revenue generation. While the cost of installing the equipment may be significant, recouping those costs due to increased productivity may be accomplished in less time than owners and managers realize. Assuming that the equipment helps to increase the number of units produced without cutting corners in terms of quality, this means the business can fill customer orders faster, which is likely to increase demand and sales over time. If the automation will not mean increasing output even as it eventually reduces operational and labor costs, rethinking the assembly line automation before full implementation may be in the best interests of the company.