Embrace manufacturing process automation in your business
Manufacturing process automation will soon become a standardized tool in manufacturing. In this article, we explore process automation and all it has to offer.
Last updated: 17.08.2022
Manufacturing process automation is quickly becoming a standardized tool in the manufacturing industry. That’s why we’ve investigated process automation, what it can do for D2C manufacturers, and the tools scaling manufacturers can use.
There’s a lot of assumptions people formulate when they think about automation along a production line.
They envision conveyor belts, mass layoffs, and soulless robotic arms picking and packing away at products.
But, since the industrial robotics boom of the 1980s the application of automation in manufacturing has changed, from robotic arms for large scale manufacturers to inventory management tools for crafters.
Automation is no longer a threat to employees but an important tool for any manufacturing business.
Manufacturing process automation is here to stay and will only continue to improve each day as the technology becomes more accessible.
As already mentioned, an automated manufacturing system isn’t only limited to production lines. It can be a tool that can automate your inventory, orders, purchasing, or even marketing. Pretty much anything can be automated to improve your manufacturing productions.
In this article, we look into how a manufacturer can implement these tools into their business and the different functions these tools perform.
So, without further ado, let’s delve straight into it.
What is Automation in Manufacturing?
Automation in manufacturing is the process of using production management software or robotic tools to operate a factory when making a physical product.
These tools are built to perform operations to help businesses with tasks such as processing, assembly, inspection, inventory management, and production planning.
In the past, a tool would perform a specialized task, but with technological advancements, the number of operations that a tool can perform has increased.
In a nutshell, this is what is meant by process automation.
The reason manufacturers have shifted their focus to improving this area is because it’ll help them:
Reduce costs and production waste
To properly adopt lean inventory techniques into your business, you’re going to need to adopt a tool that can help you track inventory movements, WIP manufacturing costs, and operation progress.
Automated manufacturing will allow you to handle multiple projects at once, in turn generating more revenue.
Improve product quality
By having real-time data of your products, you’re able to refine your production with process automation manufacturing. This will allow you to discover the inferior components in your products and make the necessary replacements.
Improve response time
With real-time data, you can get a better understanding of your stock levels, to immediately know if you can start production or if you need to order more material, drastically increasing your business’s fulfillment rate.
Of course, this is mainly focused on manufacturing process software, but when it comes to using robotics, there are two main reasons:
It’s cheap to use; and
It helps compensate for skilled labor shortages.
However, since only 29% of manufacturers turn to robotics, we’ll focus on manufacturing process software for this article instead.
And you might be surprised to know that on the market there is software built to perform a wide range of different manufacturing tasks.
The Different Types of Process Automation Systems
So, what manufacturing automation solutions are out there, waiting to be utilized by manufacturers, small and large?
Sales and manufacturing orders can quickly become difficult to fulfill when business picks up, especially if you’re a bespoke manufacturer.
By automating this manufacturing process, you’ll be able to monitor orders in real-time, track customized orders, handle pricing calculations, store customer information, and adapt to any order changes.
Automating your supply chain is going to help you with decreasing the delivery times of your products to customers. Also, you’ll be able to improve your routing manufacturing, which is especially important if you have products stored at multiple locations.
From upselling/cross-selling to automatic responses to queries during out of office hours, anything that can improve the customer’s shopping experience is only going to help increase customer satisfaction rates.
Using automation in manufacturing industry is extremely important for manufacturers. Using software will allow businesses to improve bottleneck management, store bill of materials, and even make use of AI-assisted decisions. And if you outsource your production (or part of it), contract manufacturing software can be of huge help when it comes to managing inventory and processes at your suppliers’ locations and at your own.
Manufacturing process automation of your operations will allow you to improve your workflow, reduce your manufacturing lead time, and ultimately boost your bottom line.
So, these are the manufacturing automation solutions manufacturers need to consider using. However, be sure to read on as we look into Smart Manufacturing Software, an all in one solution that can perform all of the above tasks and functions.
PRO TIP: For every manufacturer, regardless of what you make, the biggest challenge will be inventory management. That’s why we put together the ultimate guide on inventory management for small business inventory, to help you get more control, and scale your business.
The benefits of Using Automation in Manufacturing
We touched on the benefits of using manufacturing automation very briefly in the first chapter.
However, the actual list of benefits extends way beyond those three points. The sooner you implement a manufacturing process software into your business, you’ll experience:
— An increase in labor productivity;
— A reduction in labor costs;
— A way of mitigating the effects of a labor shortage;
— A reduction or elimination of errors from abandoning spreadsheets or other documentation;
— An improvement to product quality;
— A reduced manufacturing lead time; and
— Increased savings by avoiding the high cost of not automating your production.
If you’re a small-scale manufacturer, with sale orders here and there, it probably won’t be necessary to get set-up with process automation systems.
But, once your business starts to expand, and you’re handling more and more orders, it will quickly become a no brainer when deciding if it’s time to upgrade your processes.
Even more so for D2C manufacturers because the assistance of automation will be able to help them truck along, as they’ve decided to go solo and cut out the middleman.
Why Manufacturing Automation is Crucial for D2C Manufacturers
The manufacturing process and automation go hand in hand for D2C manufacturers since they’re taking back control of their business, but ultimately increasing their responsibilities.
For this reason, D2C manufacturers can’t afford to waste time updating inefficient spreadsheets or trying to fix a bottleneck, as they also need to divert resources to customer services, marketing campaigns, and building their direct to consumer brands.
An automated manufacturing system allows D2C manufacturers to develop a master production schedule, monitor their floor-level production, and manage their inventory levels automatically, so the D2C manufacturer can stay focused on manufacturing their goods and growing their business.
However, as D2C manufacturers are also handling their sales, they’ll likely be using an e-commerce platform to sell their products.
That’s why it’s essential to find manufacturing process software with Shopify inventory integration (or integration with whichever preferred sales channel) to have your entire business centralized onto one dashboard.
Thankfully, tools like Katana’s Smart Manufacturing Software has been built specifically for D2C manufacturers looking for manufacturing process software that can bring their sales channels, manufacturing, and orders to once place.
Automated Manufacturing with Smart Manufacturing Software
Automation in manufacturing industry is made easy and possible with tools such as Katana’s Smart Manufacturing Software, which has been built by manufacturers, for scaling manufacturers.
Katana is an all in one solution that, will not only streamline your business, but can integrate with your favorite platforms too, and help you with:
— Order fulfillment;
— Your supply chain;
— Customer service;
— Operations; and
— Process automation.
The other terms you’ll recognize from earlier in the article, but what is process automation?
The process automation definition is a term used to describe software which can automatically monitor and handle your inventory movement.
For example, Katana can give you the full power of automated manufacturing with its unique auto-booking engine, designed to take available finished goods and raw materials, and allocate them to any sale, or manufacturing orders, you have open.
But not only will you have access to this feature, but Katana also offers:
— On-demand access to your manufacturing costs;
— Synchronization with your accounting software like QuickBooks;
— Finished goods and raw material inventory management;
— Inventory tracking of items on consignment or across multiple warehouses;
— An easy to understand, visual dashboard, which can centralize your entire business.
If you consider yourself more of a visual learner, be sure to check out the video below to get a better understanding of how Katana works:
Natural Native is a cannabidiol (CBD) store selling via Shopify, who noticed their impromptu approach to production planning and inventory management was providing less than satisfactory results. But that all changed once they introduced Smart Manufacturing Software into their business:
“At first, we approached work ad-hoc, mainly doing everything by estimations. But once we got started with Katana, we were able to formulate a schedule and get our stock under control. Before, we would quite often experience delays but, since using Katana, we’ve been able to be on top of our order fulfillment.” – Madeline White, Natural Native.
With Katana, Natural Native was able to:
— Improve production planning and increase their fulfillment rate by a whopping 80%;
— Get more control of their inventory with Katana’s intuitive process automation; and
— Develop a schedule and use Katana’s task list so team members can proceed with their objectives.
And as the technology improves and becomes more accessible, it’s only going to become more crucial that you use manufacturing process automation, even if it’s only for one process in your business.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep up with the competition, and you’ll quickly become submerged as your business begins to grow.
So, why not be ahead of the curve like many other scaling manufacturers? You can see for yourself the power of manufacturing process automation in your business with Smart Manufacturing Software.
Katana offers a 14-day free trial, so you can take the tool for a test drive with your manufacturing business.
That’s all we have for today. We hope that you found this article useful, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch by leaving a comment below or hitting us up on our social media pages.
And until next time, happy manufacturing.
Katana gives thousands of manufacturers a live look at their business. Manage all the moving parts of your business and unite the apps and services you use in one visual platform.
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