ET Back to Business Summary – Increased role and impact of automation in manufacturing

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, aptly termed as the ‘intelligence revolution’. For the critical manufacturing industry, the changes driven by automation are of rising importance because of its impact on productivity and the labour force. Never before has human bot collaboration carried as much potential as it does today, and automation can be the ace up the sleeve that helps the manufacturing industry meet the country’s GDP goals.

Automation is also helping the manufacturing industry evolve its definition of productivity. The measure of productivity is no longer defined by physical movement of goods; it now takes into consideration human capital factors such as creativity, upskilling and the ability to innovate. This is leading technology conversations to move from boardrooms to factory floors, and from IT teams to operations and business intelligence teams. The value addition of automation is clear to all business units.

The current challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic has played a dual role in the manufacturing industry’s outlook on automation. On one hand it has caused many business operations to come to a total standstill, but on the other hand, it has led business continuity plans to be severely tested. IT teams have had to swiftly move to implement mature continuity plans with automation at the center. This is changing the global perception of automation as an enabler of jobs or productivity, rather than simply being perceived as a new technology that will lead to job losses.

Now with the revival of the economy and the manufacturing industry a core objective for the near future, automation has the potential to play a critical role. This is especially relevant for SMEs and even bigger corporations with limited budgets. Automation does represent a cost-effective solution for existing and future business challenges, and with the manufacturing industry now more knowledgeable and accepting of the technology, economic revival can be driven by automation. With employees more comfortable to work alongside automation, the manufacturing industry can hope to be on a sustainable positive curve soon.

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