Making the right decisions about automation

Are you experiencing:

  • Increased customer demand?
  • More demanding customers?
  • Rising labour costs?
  • Issues with quality?
  • Concerns about safety?
  • A flexible and changing manufacturing footprint?
  • An idea that Industry 4.0 and data analytics could help your business but aren’t sure how?

Automation can be the answer to a whole host of manufacturing and operations questions. But deciding what, how and when to automate is not straightforward, and getting it wrong can be expensive and highly visible. 

 

Automation assessment tool

The IfM’s Distributed Automation and Information Laboratory (DIAL) has developed a structured approach to guide you through the decision-making process.

 

The four-step process:

  1. Overview - evaluate products, processes and current levels of automation.
  2. Opportunity - identify and rank opportunity criteria. Scoring automation opportunities.
  3. Feasibility - score potential automation solutions against ranked feasibiltiy criteria
  4. Assessment - plot and review projects. Develop a progressive and integrated automation strategy. 

 

The results

Our approach highlights and prioritises the steps you need to take in order to progress along the ‘Automation Maturity Path’ and has been used successfully with a number of leading companies including Jaguar Land Rover, Foxconn and Schlumberger.

 

The outcomes include:

  • a full assessment of your current production capabilities and your automation objectives.
  • identification of the areas you could automate and analyse the feasibility of each option.
  • developing a structured and prioritised implementation pathway.
  • working with your production engineers so that the assessment is robust and we build a shared, company-wide vision for your automation strategy. 

 

Previous projects have:

  • Stimulated higher level discussion of automation benefits and issues
  • Clarified automation objectives and given focus and direction to the international automation team
  • Led to the structured assessment approach being adopted across global operations
  • Created a company-wide picture enabling consistent analysis for multi-site manufacture
  • Seen companies rolling out this approach across multiple sites

 

Case studies

 

Case study 1: adopting a consistent approach that works across different sites and products

The company was looking to improve operations and reduce its head count in the context of rising labour costs, more demanding customers, limited design input and having a flexible and changing manufacturing footprint. The project clarified automation objectives, gave focus and direction to the international automation team and highlighted important differences between sites and products. This resulted in the development of a clear picture across the company and a consistent approach to analysis for multi-site manufacture. The company is now rolling out the assessment approach across six plants.

 

Case study 2: making the right automation choices

An experienced and expert automation team was evaluating three material handling projects, each with a range of possible solutions. We worked with the company to identify the best fit solutions and to prioritise the work accordingly. By providing a logical and structured approach to considering the automation opportunities, previously unconsidered benefits and drawbacks were revealed.

 

Case study 3: developing a company-wide automation strategy

The company wanted to modernise its manufacturing in order to reduce costs, support geographical expansion and be more flexible in its manufacturing capabilities. It had already identified a number of automation opportunities but needed a way of categorising and prioritising them. The project reviewed plant structures and then looked at opportunity and feasibility criteria and rankings in order to make decisions about each project both individually but also collectively, taking a company-wide, consistent approach. 

 

 

Find out more about the automation assessment tool on our research pages.

For further information please contact:

IfM ECS

T: +44 (0)1223 766141

E: ifm-enquiries@eng.cam.ac.uk

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