Where Automation Can Make Life Easier for Manufacturers

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While automation certainly isn’t a brand new idea in the world of manufacturing, it is currently gaining unimaginable levels of momentum thanks to the emergence of Industry 4.0 and technologies such as AI and Machine Learning.
powering intelligent manufacturing

The word “automation” used to be associated with improving operations through robots, but we have now gone beyond the physical and into the digital world, transforming the way data, analytics, and computing power are perceived and used in different industries.

There is a wide range of business processes where machines can outperform humans in terms of efficiency and precision. As a result, the newest technological advances are allowing manufacturers to rethink and reorganize their strategies, spurring them on towards innovation and greater business outcomes.

This blog takes a look at the processes which can benefit from applying automation mechanisms to their workflows.

Financial Management

A recent study by McKinsey shows that 27 percent of finance activities could be automated, and a third of these processes can be achieved with robotic process automation (RPA).

Using Artificial Intelligence in finance essentially means restructuring business processes in a way that allows them to be analyzed and automated. Finance leaders can receive contextual insights into the most pressing matters immediately, which means they’ll spend less time crunching numbers and dedicate their time to devising long-term strategies instead.

With the help of automation in financial management, companies will be able to create forecast models and predict price change effects on revenue, as well as understand how different net payments are changing the cash flow.

Using aggregated data from sales transactions, logistics tracking or customer interactions, automated systems could provide real-time suggestions and send out personalized reports, keeping everyone informed.

Customer service

When interacting with customers and offering support, manufacturers have to stay on their toes and be available at all times, which is almost impossible to do these days. With the emergence of chat-bots and the advances in natural language queries, organizations are going to be spending a lot less resources on making sure questions about their products and services are answered.

Automated systems can give customers answers to FAQs, provide them with any kind of information on-demand, and even let them customize their orders. Triggers upon specific customer interactions could also be set up, so organizations would always stay in the loop and receive notifications about when to intervene at just the right moments.

IT operations

Low-code environments are slowly but surely becoming the norm. In the last paragraph, we mentioned that customers will greatly benefit from natural language queries in the near future. This is also the case with IT teams. Instead of relying on knowing how to code, your workforce will be able to set up tools like Power BI by typing in whatever action they want to perform.

Apart from that, automation in IT processes will ensure your organization keeps up with the newest security standards, updates and patches without having to complete these actions manually.

Data organization and structuring, as well as advanced analytics, are processes which are already influenced by automation. Enterprise systems are becoming “smarter”, and it’s just a matter of time before every manufacturer starts tracking crucial manufacturing metrics using automated tools.

Testing

There is perhaps no area more suitable for automation than testing and quality assurance. The sheer quickness and precision demonstrated by machines in these business processes are huge time- and resource-savers.

With technologies such as 3D scanning and IoT sensor tracking, manufacturers are able to have real-time insights into what’s happening on factory floors and conveyer belts. If a component is about to fail, automated testing tools are going to let you know exactly why that’s the case, helping you get rid of problems entirely instead of just treating symptoms.

Using sets of parameters to define manufacturing standards, organizations are going to be able to drastically increase product and process quality.

You can read about how Artificial Intelligence can be used to automate QA processes here.

Conclusion

Automation is sometimes perceived as the culprit of destroying jobs and getting rid of employees, but the reality of it is quite different. With its help, you can keep your workforce engaged and motivated, eliminating the need to do repetitive tasks manually, as well as ensure high quality business processes across the board, at all times.

The gains manufacturing organizations can achieve through automation are incredible. According to McKinsey and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 478 billion of the 749 billion working hours (64 percent) spent on manufacturing-related activities in 2015 were automatable, which translates into $2.7 trillion worth of labor.

Even though manufacturing is a leading industry when it comes to employing automation, there is still a sea of opportunities to understand and grasp in order to improve efficiency and guide organizations to success.

In order to turn these opportunities into competitive advantages, you can rely on the Microsoft Business Azure Platform and Merit Solutions’ industry expertise. Check out our page about Dynamics 365, an end-to-end answer to business challenges built for saving resources and automating time-consuming tasks.

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