For manufacturers, distributors and logistics professionals, the word “automation” is often thought of as a four-letter word. Coincidentally, the same train of thought applies to the cumbersome task of gathering and integrating your company’s data – when it’s done manually.
Data is the life-blood of executive-level strategies and can be the foundation for decisions that increase efficiencies and innovate processes. Unfortunately, getting to this data can be tricky. Many companies have data stored in multiple locations – in excel documents, on desktops, in the shop, within CRMs, etc. With all the steps required to gather data, collecting it into one location and then manipulating it can be a time-consuming and error-prone process.
But, to realize the full benefits of your company’s data, somebody must gather it on a regular basis. That is, unless you decide to automate the process.
Automating the data capture, collection and integration process has significant competitive advantages:
- Reduces errors – Clean data is an obvious pro of data automation that should not be overlooked. Data gathering can be rife with complications and opportunities for human error. If an error should occur, leaders make decisions based on inaccurate data, losing time, money, and a competitive edge. The automation process removes the chance for human error, providing executives with clean, accurate data.
- Frees up time of skilled employees – If you ask your employees whether or not they find value in the process of collecting company data, they will likely tell you no. Data gathering is an administrative irritation. Put your employees’ time to more value-added, strategic tasks by automating this painstaking process.
- Addresses skills gap – Many manufacturing, logistics, and distribution centers are facing a steep skills gap with the incoming generation of workers. Despite the skills gap, with experienced baby boomers retiring, the younger workers will have to get up to speed and wear many hats. Automating a complex job like data gathering can help the newer workers focus on their real job.
- Smarter user interfaces mean less time training – According to 5 Key Trends in Manufacturing Automation 2018—And Why They Matter, “In 2018, we expect the trend of increasingly smart interfaces and control panels to manage and optimize automation processes to pick up even more speed. Don’t even think about complex PLC interfaces. Consider instead the simplicity and versatility of an iPad.” Improved automation interfaces make training less time-consuming – improving productivity and increasing adoption from younger generations.
- Appeals to younger generations – While manufacturers of a certain age may resist automation, the younger generation typically embraces robotics and automated process. Millennials and younger generations adapt quickly to new technologies, especially mobile technologies, enabling them to use extra time for data crunching or generating out-of-the-box ideas.
In addition to its many benefits, automation has also improved by becoming smarter and cheaper. The SMS Group sells hardware and software to help manufacturers, distribution centers, and logistics professionals automate their data capture, collection and integration processes. Contact us to learn more about successes we’ve seen and how to take steps toward greater operating efficiencies in your environment.