Humankind has come a long way since the dawn of time, from hunter-gather societies utilizing stone tools, the first-ever factory introducing assembly lines, to our current day where the digital revolution reigns supreme. And no matter how far you look back to our history, our species is defined by progress and innovation, relentless creatures who will overcome any challenge.
As a result of our never-ending grasp for progress, we are now witnessing industries and businesses, big and small alike, radically changing to the Industrial Revolution 4.0. And in this transitional period, the manufacturing sector sees the first full integration of automation technologies, advanced artificial intelligence, and robotics.
What Is Causing This Shift?
For the longest time, increased productivity, efficient practices, and digital assets have served us well. And for the most part, the past century has enjoyed and heavily benefited from this process. But with innovation and advancement also carries growing demands and adapting to change, which means sticking to current methods will become unsustainable in the long-term.
Hence, the rise of automation technologies that optimize resource allocation and help leverage opportunity costs across all facets of the business. And among the following are the many benefits it brings:
Cost-effective. Regular factories across the world are turning into smart factories and for a good reason. Placing numerous people to do repetitive and trivial tasks is slowly becoming a relic of the past as robots can replace them at much lower costs and increased efficiency. Automation is more cost-effective than employing manual labor, and it also opens job opportunities for high-skill positions with better job security.
Standardized Process. Humans aren’t perfect, and placing them in an assembly line keeps quality assurance from reaching 100%. Automation technologies standardize the process and remove the liability of human error from the picture. It guarantees consumers they receive top-quality products and gives businesses greater control.
Increased Focus on More Difficult Tasks. The utilization of automation technologies in the manufacturing process frees up hands from simple tasks and allows professionals to focus on more challenging ones. It will enable businesses to tap into more extraordinary talent and creativity that would have otherwise been wasted potential if left to do a robot’s job.
However, with all that said, this transition into an era of automation puts a strain on medium and small businesses that can’t afford a full-integration of robotics onto the work floor. So what can you do?
Small Steps Lead to Big Changes
The change to automation technologies is an inevitable venture. And when facing the coming 4th Industrial Revolution, preparation is essential to avoid getting eaten up by the fundamental shift. Especially for small business owners, they must get their foot out of the door and begin their baby steps.
Of course, price is always a concern, and the latest automation technologies come at costly price points. But, as a general rule of thumb, even the smallest of steps can lead to the most significant changes, and here’s what you can do now:
#1 Start Where You Can
People often assume that automation immediately refers to large robot arms that can construct vehicles and move packages seamlessly, but this is a big misconception. While complicated, automation technologies also come in simpler forms, and for the small-time business owner, it’s best to start where you can.
- Marketing Efforts: A great start is with emails and responses as these messages can be wired through an automated reply/follow-up system. You can also opt for web analytics to see what your business partners often look for in your company.
- Project Management: Manually managing multiple teams and personnel for your business can become a hassle in the long run. Invest your time finding the right software that will help automate and simplify the task delegation and communication.
#2 Gather Data
Data is like gold in our current age, and knowing the ins and outs of your business will give you a broad understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need improvement. Use the time you have right now to investigate and gather data on different aspects of your manufacturing process that can be made more efficient with automation.
So when the time comes, and you can integrate more advanced automation technologies into your work floor, you’ll exactly know where you need them. The data will serve as your basis and can also help for future additions down the line.
#3 Think Long-term
Lastly, from here onward, your plans should always bear in mind that you’re in this business for the long-term. Your decisions should revolve around the concept of the incoming change and adapting to it when the wave starts reaching its peak.
Focus more on providing skills training and development for your employees to prepare them for more technical work. Look to hire more professionals like business lawyers, technicians, engineers, and others with more valuable talents to help your business flourish.
The Future Is Now
Smart technologies and automation are everywhere now, and it will only be a matter of time before the future that seemed so far away will dawn before our very eyes. And the question is, will you be among the small businesses left behind or among the select few who will capitalize on this opportunity?