Manufacturing Automation: Process, Pilots and Costs

Automation provides the capability to improve the ease of operations, not only for customers but also employees, partners and suppliers of any sector.


Around 40% – 50% of the manufacturing workforce will be unavailable to perform their functions on-site whilst Covid-19 is still present in our countries and places of work. This is possibly the most damning reality being faced by the manufacturing industry currently, and although US factory production did increase for its fourth straight month in August that recovery is showing signs of strain.

Executives in the manufacturing field must obviously prioritize the continued procurement of talent whilst also effectively training their current staff but they should also make a concerted effort to buy into the automation tools transforming factory floors the world over.

According to Prasad Satyavolu, CDO for Manufacturing and Logistics at Cognizant, “automation provides the capability to improve the ease of operations, not only for customers but also employees, partners and suppliers of the manufacturing sector, and when integrated correctly, automation can amplify people’s skills and strengths to increase workplace efficiency.”

Manufacturing Automation

Generally, when we refer to industrial automation, we’re discussing the process of using production management software and/or robotic tools to operate a factory in order to make a physical product.

Over the past two decades, that automation has been transforming factory floors. Advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have enabled machines to dramatically increase productivity across all manufacturing processes and the potential speaks for itself. The number of industrial robots increases by 14% each year, whilst the total amount of task hours completed by humans will fall by 13% by 2022, freeing them up for more highly skilled tasks.

Prospects like this, naturally, lead to investment and that’s exactly what we’re seeing on a global scale. Today, almost 56% of global companies do some type of automation and the global industrial automation market size was valued at $168.81 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $326.14 billion by 2027. It is safe to say that automation in the manufacturing industry is not going away and the advantages of automating the process are also numerous.

Reduces Costs & Production Waste:

Human error has held back business for generation and if technology can help remove it from our workplace systems wherever possible, it should be pursued. Manufacturing automation helps executives to track their inventory movements, WIP manufacturing costs, and operation progress seamlessly and, as such, gives you a birds-eye view across your factory floor, which reduces costs and production waste.

Greater Worker Safety:

That same human error can also prove costly when employees make mistakes on the production line. Injury and wider health and safety issues can shut down factories for days – this is obviously a significant thorn in the side of any manufacturing business. By using machines and robots for the most physically dangerous tasks, employee safety can be assured.

Improves Product Quality:

With real-time data, executives can better streamline their processes in the day-to-day whilst increasing visibility across the product development phase. With these insights, business leaders can better surface areas for improvement in their products and make the requisite changes to deliver better service.

Improve Response Time:

Real-time data also affords manufacturing executives with minute-to-minute stock level information, this information can help to prevent stockouts and increase business fulfillment rates. The greatest advantage of this is that it helps to compensate for skilled labor shortages, a particular boon at this time.

There has never been a better time to invest in your automation processes. In fact, Alan Duncan, Senior Industry Strategy Director at Blue Yonder, suggests that automation & the pandemic go hand-in-hand stating, “ultimately, it’s machines and people working together that will get us through this crisis… automation has evolved into having a greater focus on flexibility, scalability & process adaptability… a tool to optimize efficiency through manufacturers’ ability to adapt to demands.”

Continue the debate at the NG Manufacturing Digital Summit, where we bring together senior manufacturing executives who are actively seeking to share, learn, engage, and find the best technology solutions.

GDS Group hosts experts to help experts. We strive to provide an atmosphere for our attendees that enables them to confidently lead their companies through major transformation projects. For information on upcoming events, view our  Digital Summits. To remain current on our activities, visit GDS Group on LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter.