Automation, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “is the use of largely automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production process.” It uses software and technology (e.g., CNC machines and robots) to carry out specific tasks to enhance performance (or sometimes replace) human workers. The adoption of automation is accelerating, so let’s examine the backstage effects of this adoption on your business, which can lead to greater profitability, enhanced operations, market traction, and boosting performance.
Three General Automation Categories:
- Software Automation: A computer program performs essential but time-consuming tasks that are valuable but bog down your employees, such as taking orders over the phone and transferring the information to the factory floor for fabrication.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): It is designed to mimic the way human’s work, meaning a computer inputs orders, for example, into your system the way your data entry person would but at a much faster pace.
- Industrial (Factory) Automation: Machines are used to control physical tasks on the factory floor, such as running CNC machines and automated equipment inspection.
Software and industrial automation are reshaping how you operate your business. Aspects of your business where these forms of automation enhance your processes and strengthen your capabilities include order entry (e.g., A+W iQuote for online order entry by your customers at flat glass and window/door companies), tracking, barcoding, programming CNC machines, electronic delivery notifications, inventory management, etc.
Software, such as that from A+W Software, is the backbone to automation’s success. How? It can transform how your front office personnel direct orders to the shop floor, how interconnected CNC machines process and produce flat glass, windows, and/or doors at a faster clip with fewer workers, the tracking and stacking of lites or doors on racks, the scanning of items throughout the factory (e.g., A+W Smart Companion for barcode scanning on the shop floor for flat glass or window/door companies), the management of inventory or residuals for increased yield (A+W Residual Stock Manager), intelligently plan your routes and deliveries with A+W Logistics Optimizer, tracking racks throughout the factory and at customer sites using A+W Rack Optimizer, and so much more. Software allows you to think outside the current box of possibilities. It is truly transformational in how it leads your business to greater profitability, enhanced operations, increased market traction, and boosted performance.
Advantages of Software and Industrial Automation:
- Freeing up employee time: Software can take over tedious work processes, such as order entry, so your employees can focus on more important tasks like handling customer complaints.
- Reduced operating costs: Software can save you time and money. Over time you can lower your operating costs through lower labor costs, energy savings, increased accuracy, and minimizing waste, such as through optimization software for cutting flat glass or window frames. For example, you can save time with smarter software. This same software can help save you money by lowering your printing and toner costs for labels.
- Shortened factory lead times: Every minute counts in a competitive environment. By employing automation processes, such as factory floor barcode scanning of finished lites/windows/doors using A+W Barcode Manager, you’re enabling your business to deliver finished products to your customers faster.
- Lowered operating costs: CNC machines can do the work of multiple people and work 24/7. This allows CNC machines to take on repetitive tasks and work through the night, thus lowering your operating costs and leading to my next point, increasing production output.
- Increased production output: With the ability to work 24/7 without rest, you can increase your productivity and even introduce new products by programming the CNC machines offline without disrupting their current work schedule.
- Maximized labor: With roughly 10,000 baby boomers retiring daily, we will need new solutions to fill the labor shortage. Your demand for labor will continue, so utilizing software and industrial automation provides a real and viable solution.
- Better planning: Consistent production through software and industrial automation allows your business to reliably predict timing, costs, and order from suppliers.
- Increased ROI: Automation solutions pay for themselves quickly due to lower operating costs, reduced lead times, increased output, and much more.
- Improved governance: Software automation allows your business to follow strict protocols when required, such as glass for hospital rooms
- Enhanced tracking: Software allows your business to better track inventory, KPIs, orders, throughput times, etc., which leads back (sounding like a broken record) to everything we’ve discussed in this ten-point list.
These are just a few examples of how software and industrial automation are turbocharging the flat glass, window, and door industry. Paper orders, tracking via spreadsheets, communication with customers, optimization, planning, inventory, delivery, etc. are all opportunities to enhance your company’s processes. By utilizing software from A+W Software tied in with industrial automation, you can make smarter decisions, reduce turnaround times, increase throughput and yield, improve the customer experience, and much more. These will allow your company to survive and grow in our competitive environment.