It’s not an underestimation to say that technology has changed the landscape in completely unfathomable ways, especially when it comes to automation. While automation is, in many ways, a godsend to eradicate a variety of previously labor-intensive tasks, it’s important to have a balanced view of this practice. If you are considering integrating workflow automation into your company, here are several pros and cons to consider.
The Pros of Automation
This is one of the biggest benefits of automation. When you implement automated processes in a business, it’s going to naturally reduce the time-sensitive tasks, and also remove the most repetitive ones, which will free up your employees’ time. Also, because of the variety of technical support out there purely to prop up automation, it proves a boon for businesses. In manufacturing, it’s important to automate certain areas with the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), and when it comes to PLC installation, repair, and programming, many resources can help. Because efficiency is not just about the tool working to the best of its ability, it’s also about having the support in place.
Lower production costs
Eventually, automation can result in lower production costs for companies. When the process does not involve recurring costs, apart from repairs, this is a great investment in the long run. Naturally, it is an initial expense, but this is why it’s so important to look at the bigger picture.
This is especially prudent when we look at the manual processing of a task. Human error is commonplace, no matter how much we try to train and upskill our employees. Automating tasks that require significant input from workers can reduce and eliminate the likelihood of human error. Automation can result in consistent output, with precise results. When we compare automation to the human approach because machines are quicker to learn than humans it streamlines efforts significantly.
Safety is understandably crucial in an environment with many human workers. When businesses have a number of human workers with dangerous jobs, such as working with chemicals, automating the more dangerous tasks result in fewer workplace injuries, and a more stringent approach to health and safety.
The Cons of Automation
One of the biggest concerns for business owners and employees is the uncertain nature of automation. Many people look at how their role could become redundant in a decade or two. When we consider the numerous tasks that can be automated, and even upgraded with augmented reality, it’s going to cause a lot of consternation, people may fear for their jobs and jump ship because they need to cover their backs. When we automate business processes, there will be a time when certain jobs are automated, especially those low-skill or system-based ones. As the need for automation continues to grow, there is still a need for people to operate and maintain those systems.
The initial investment
Making the switch from human input to automation is not the cheapest. Many businesses are operating on a month-to-month basis in light of the pandemic, and the initial cost up front could be too much to cope with. Most times, the initial costs to incorporate and maintain the systems can be over and above the manual costs. Additionally, there are costs relating to maintenance and repair, not to mention training and supervision. Ultimately, the devices need to be mended by at least one human, and the investment in upskilling an employee who has been with the company for decades but now has to change their approach to working could cause many teething issues.
A loss of flexibility
We think of automation as this almighty savior of business processes. But it is so important to recognize that automation does not lend itself well to customization. A machine can only do what it is programmed to do. Humans are able to learn and develop in a number of different ways with different tasks. Automation involves repeating the same process again and again, which often requires incorporating standardization. Additionally, customization for the sake of the customer can be incompatible with certain automated processes. If a part of the supply chain finds itself at the receiving end of a system malfunction, the time it takes to get the machine up and running could cause a snowball effect within these parts of the supply chain.
As you can see, automation is certainly a wonderful thing to incorporate, but it is vital that we prepare ourselves for the challenges that come along with this supposed savior of business.