Adopting the 4 types of Automation in Food & Beverage

Explore 4 levels of manufacturing automation, boost efficiency, and cut costs. Make informed integration choices. Unlock future production potential!



Today we are talking about the four different levels of automation in today’s manufacturing facilities, the benefits of moving forward with automation, and how it should be approached to minimize the risk of adopting new technology and ensuring success.

What is factory automation?

Factory automation is when technology takes over manual tasks in a food and beverage manufacturing plant.

In automated processes, businesses have many choices for their labor resources, including focusing on other value-added and higher-impact activities.

4 Types of Food & Beverage automation

Manufacturing automation covers a broad spectrum: from enhancing a single manual process along the production line to a more full-scale digital or technology transformation that spans all of the manufacturing operations. The automation spectrum includes:

1. Partial Automation

Incorporating automation into a factory process where a human worker is in charge involves automating simple, repetitive tasks. However, the responsibility for ensuring quality assurance standards for the outcome that leaves the workstation remains with the human operator.

2. One-off Automation

Automation is taken to the next level with machines designed to carry out one specific, repetitive task. These tasks can include robotic actions like cutting, welding, packing, or defect detection using computer vision.

3. Production Line Automation

Automated machines linked through a conveyor system can reduce the need for human involvement on the factory floor. When an automated production line is in place, the workforce's role shifts to supervising, monitoring, and maintaining the equipment rather than carrying out the production process.

4. End-to-End Automation

The highest level of automation is a complete end-to-end manufacturing environment. This fully automated setup operates 24/7 without any human input or oversight. This level of automation is costly and complex.

Benefits of automating your Manufacturing operation

Manufacturing operation automation provides various benefits, and organizations have different priorities and expectations when starting an automation journey based on their goals. Overall, the benefits of automation include the following:

Improved productivity

The primary goal of automation, whether it's partial process changes or end-to-end transformation, is to enhance productivity by removing the limitations of human workers in a production process. Unlike people, machines can work continuously, allowing businesses to increase their production capacity significantly.

Improved quality and consistency

Automated processes can produce finished products of higher quality and consistency than those made by human labor, in addition to productivity gains.

Reduced waste

Repeating processes can lead to better planning and less waste.

Cost saving

Although automation comes with an initial expense, it provides long-term cost savings due to the benefits we've identified. Choosing automation is a compelling option for manufacturing operations. In addition to saving costs through improved productivity, quality, and waste reduction, effective automation can also decrease downtime and staff training costs, leading to further cost reductions.

How to approach factory automation in your business

While the potential upside of manufacturing automation is significant, the outlay required can be extensive without the proper strategy and plan.

Understand your goals

The return on investment of an automation project depends on how it's implemented in the manufacturing facility, with some systems generating a more substantial and immediate ROI than others. That's why it's important to prioritize which processes on the factory floor should be automated first. When considering automation options, start with small steps, like introducing single automated machines that will deliver the best ROI for your specific needs.

Keep everyone on the same page

Get everyone on board with the automation plan by making the benefits clear to all stakeholders, including improved productivity, profitability, and job opportunities for upskilling. Identify the big picture and think about what value drivers your team can do with more time for truly productive activities.

Assessing Tools and Technology

Can you carefully assess the tools and technology to achieve the desired automation outcomes? Sometimes, companies can go overboard and make the journey more complicated and expensive than it needs to be. To strike the right balance, it's essential to start by understanding your current manufacturing systems and the specific goals you have in mind.

Data can help measure

To ensure automation initiatives deliver on their potential, invest in data tools to receive insights into the impact of automation.

Take the time. Make it a priority.

Manufacturing #automation is becoming necessary in all production areas due to the benefits it brings in productivity and quality. However, it requires careful planning for a successful rollout. When considering automation options, remember that overdoing it can hurt productivity.

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