Balancing Automation and the Human Touch in Manufacturing

Balancing Automation and the Human Touch in Manufacturing - Expert Staffing

It’s quite an exciting time to be in the manufacturing industry. Technology and automation is advancing in leaps and bounds, revolutionizing the industry and creating countless more opportunities for companies.

However, these advancements, while exciting, pose a challenge for management and workers alike. Managers have to balance the advantages of automation with the needs and preferences of the workers, as well as customers.

Important Human Factors in Manufacturing

The human factors in manufacturing include the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of how your workers interact with the technology at the workplace. These factors will influence the performance, satisfaction, and health of the workers. They also affect the quality, safety, and profitability of the processes and products at the company. 

Another key human factor when dealing with automation in manufacturing is creating trust. If your workers trust that you are considering their well-being when it comes to technological advancements in the workplace, it can positively affect acceptance and adoption of automation systems.

Automation Factors in Manufacturing

Automation involves the use of machines, software, and systems to perform tasks that humans could otherwise perform. When it comes to manufacturing, automation can exist on many different levels and functions. Here are some examples of automation:

  • Process automation uses sensors, controllers, and actuators 
  • Machine automation utilizes programmable logic controllers, computer numerical control, and industrial robots to operate the machines performing operations (i.e. cutting or welding
  • System automation employs supervisory control and data acquisition, distributed control systems, and manufacturing execution systems to integrate and coordinate the different components of the manufacturing system. 
  • Information automation relies on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics to collect, process, and generate information from the manufacturing data.

Clearly, manufacturing companies may have quite a variety of automation running, depending on their size, products, and processes. Finding a way to balance the automation factors with the human factors is key.

How to Create a Balance Between Automation & Human Factors

There are quite a list of benefits when it comes to implementing automation in your manufacturing company:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved quality
  • Enhanced safety
  • Greater flexibility
  • Increased innovation

Certain automation can also decrease the risks and hazards for workers, which may help workers avoid accidents, injuries or illnesses.

While this might seem attractive, implementing automation can also come with a lot of challenges:

  • Pricey investments in equipment, software, maintenance, and training
  • Can create skills gaps between the workers and the necessary tasks
  • May create friction and decrease of trust among workers

To help ease the challenges of implementation and enjoy the benefits of automation, it’s necessary to create a balance. To do this, it’s important to create strategies that consider user-centered design and human-machine interaction, collaboration, and learning. This way, workers will work with technology instead of fighting against it. 

Find Qualified Workers to Take Your Automation to the Next Level

Contact Expert Staffing if you’re looking for qualified workers in New England with the right technical skills to help you make the most of automation in your company.

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