One of the big challenges of our industry is the planning and execution of integrating automation. Given the state of the demands on the labor market and the ease of mobility, we will continue to have shortages. The only answers to this concern are innovation in efficiency or innovation in automation.

​You should use both.

Automation can take many forms. Basic automation can be as simple as machine loading or unloading. Advanced automation is where the challenges lie. If you are planning on advanced automation, I suggest you do this:

  1. Study your process for at least a 2 week period and focusing on all non value added activites. Most don’t do an effective job on these activities. Refer back to this blog for more ideas on this process.
  1. The study should reveal all the time you are spending on the seven wastes. If you are a normal operation, don’t be surprised if 40 percent to 50 percent of your assembly line times are waste. Do everything you can in the next eight weeks to purge these wastes by involving all the operators.
  2. The cardinal rule of automation is never automate waste! Carefully, consider how much waste may be creeping into your automation plan or your new automated line.
  3. Work closely with your automation consultant and automation machinery partner focusing on modifications to eliminate waste and reduce cost.
  4. ​Return on investment must be closely monitored as your automation planning moves forward. Too much automation can be as bad as too little.
  5. Carefully plan for the training and maintenance expertise you will need to utilize your automation.
  6. Learn all you can by visiting automation and robotics suppliers, and by reading the latest information such as Design for Advanced Manufacturing by Laroux Gillespie.

Our industry is fortunate to have many machinery suppliers from all over the world. Many of them are demonstrating more and more advanced automated machinery. Many of you have  attended the annual GlassBuild show that features automating machines and processes, but if you want to see more and learn more from a diverse theme, attend the Hanover show this month. This major event in Germany will demonstrate the latest advances that are available now, such as the introduction of more Cobots (collaborative robots) that can work side by side with operators.

Armed with these new perspectives, you will make far better decisions on your innovation automation strategy plan.

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