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Guide to Vetting and Selecting an Industrial Automation Company

By Telstar Inc |

The worldwide industrial automation market is expected to grow by $1.92 billion over the next couple of years, which means one thing: More and more companies around the globe are going the industrial automation way.

Industrial Control and Factory Automation Market by Region

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And they’re doing it for good reasons.

High-quality products, enhanced productivity, efficiency, and a safer working environment for employees are just a few of the most appealing points. So, like many other companies, you might begin wondering if it’s time for you to integrate industrial automation into your daily operations.

This guide will help you understand the major benefits of going automated, plus key tips on vetting and selecting a company to make the change with.

Do You Need Automation?

Generally, automation is probably the most demonized technological advancement in the workplace. There is an unfounded fear that it may eliminate the need for manpower. But the opposite couldn’t be more true: Automation can actually create new jobs.

“The big fear is that automation will replace all existing jobs,” says Cristian deRitis, deputy chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “If previous technology cycles are any indication, automation will complement human workers and create more jobs than it replaces in the long run.”

But to get a better idea of automation, you have to widen your perspective. It may be time to consider factors, such as how you can increase worker safety and overall efficiency. With these key points kept in mind, there are several reasons why you should consider going automated.

Reason #1: Better Quality

While humans are just as effective in bringing out the best quality, there are bound to be wide variations, which affects a worker’s overall output. But automation is different—this type of system can deliver stellar production for as long as you need it to, always ensuring better and more consistent quality.

Reason #2: Increases Efficiency

Unlike your employees, robots aren’t susceptible to burnouts. They also don’t get affected by long working hours. So if you decide to automate, your operations can go on faster with the same quality of production for hours on end without the need to switch shifts and train new employees.

Reason #3: More Productivity

Did you know that the best way to enhance productivity is to invest in new equipment and technology? Plus, with systems taking over more repetitive tasks, your employees are free to focus on other responsibilities in the production process, especially tasks that can’t be automated.

Factors that Make the Biggest Difference to Productivity

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But there are hardly any tasks or fields that can’t be controlled in some aspect—in fact, less than 5% of all occupations can be fully automated. The result leads to an increased overall output.

Reason #4: Enhances Employee Safety

Automation keeps workers away from potentially harmful work conditions like extreme temperatures, hazardous chemicals, and physically intensive-labor. Most jobs that are likely to get replaced by automation are physical ones, like manufacturing, retailing, and construction.

How to Vet and Select an Industrial Automation Company

While there really is no question as to why switching to automation is worth it for most industries, there are lingering questions to answer: How will your company do it, and which provider is best suited to serve you?

The good news is that finding the right industrial automation company to help you make the switch doesn’t have to be stressful.

Step #1: Prepare Your Needs

A majority of companies can make do with some automation—but the automation companies suitable for each may vary. It all comes down to what your company needs. By understanding what your requirements are, you’ll be in a better position to settle on a company that is the best fit for you.

But it goes beyond assessing your needs. You’ll also want to have a good understanding of here to introduce automation in your manufacturing process. One way of assessing your needs is to ask your employees essential questions, like:

  • Which part of the process do they find it hard to operate without error?
  • Could they benefit from more workers?
  • Is there a process where productivity or efficiency lacks from time to time?

Your employees are a valuable asset when it comes to figuring out your automation needs, so it’s wise to make use of them. When you do have your needs finalized, then you can move onto comparing them with an automation company’s capabilities.

Step #2: Research Potential Companies

There is no shortage of automation companies in the U.S., which means that you don’t have to settle for the very first provider that you find. The first few companies you consider might meet your basic needs, but you also have to assess whether it can stand the test in aspects like support and flexibility.

Thanks to the internet-centric world we live in today, this doesn’t have to be a tedious task. While you’ll run into an overwhelming number of options, finding a good starting point depends on whether or not a company can provide the right services. Next, you’ll want to identify the good qualities that the company offers.

Step #3: Identify the Good Qualities

After you’ve compiled a list of potential companies, it’s time to go more in-depth on each one of them. Glowing reviews are a good pointer that an automation service puts serious thought into their services—but they should not be the sole reason you settle on a company. After all, customer experiences can be unique, depending on the work that’s completed.

Luckily, there are a few specific good qualities that you’ll want to look out for in a potential automation provider.

Tip #1: Trained Staff Onboard

How many of your current team members understand the system you’re looking to deploy? While some may learn quickly, you really want an automation system that has staff to teach your crew the ins and outs of the system. Ensuring that the company you select has experienced workers is crucial, especially if future issues arise or the automation company’s support comes up short for any reason.

Tip #2: Evolving Practices

In summation, Moore’s Law says it best: the tech space is volatile. As the theory that says computers advance doubly every two years, it’s safe to say that your business likely won’t be the same several years down the line. It will grow and probably have needs for different types of automation altogether.

Moore's Law - the Number of Transistors on Integrated Circuit Chips from 1971 to 2018

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But some argue that Moore’s Law can’t keep up with the advanced evolution of automation—which is why it’s essential to ask the potential companies how their automation system will cope with both predictable and unforeseeable changes. What you want is a robust system that won’t need to call for overhaul in case of a small change in your operations.

Tip #3: Security

In the ever-evolving digital world, the safety of your data must be your top priority. The company you choose should have a security system that is dependable with regards to compliance certifications, storage, and safeguarding of data. The system should also be resistant against any potential data leakage.

Tip #4: Customer Support

U.S. companies lose about $62 million annually due to customer service, so it’s safe to say that customer support is a major factor when it comes to choosing a company. Most people switch companies based on simple yet essential experiences, like feeling unappreciated or speaking with unhelpful staff.

Customer Support Infographic

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These numbers are fair: The last thing anybody wants is to sign with a company that won’t help them in the long-run. But with customers aside, you might also run into problems. While some members of your team might have the know-how to address these issues, it’s also sometimes best to just hear from the experts themselves. So when it comes to customer service, think about these critical factors:

  • When there is an issue, how readily available is the support team?
  • How soon will someone walk you through the issue or come to fix it themselves?

Naturally, this is a huge determinant of whether or not you’ll reap from the benefits of the learning curve that may come with industrial automation.

Tip #5: User Experience

You’re probably considering automation because you want to free the overall time spent on some tasks by your employees—but it’d be counterproductive if the same time is spent figuring out how the system works.

Automation should make your work easier, which is why user-friendly systems are essential. After all, not every single one of your employees is going to be tech-savvy, and the last thing you want to do is contact the provider every time you have a question. An easy-to-use system will ensure that automation catches on faster so that you can begin to benefit from its productivity immediately.

Industrial automation is bound to keep growing as more companies integrate it into their daily operations.

Studies have also proven that automation reveals a ton of benefits, including productivity, efficiency, worker safety, and higher quality products.

Simply put, what automation does is relieve workers of largely repetitive tasks, as well as improving the manufacturing process.

If you’re looking to enlist the services of an industrial automation company, be sure to abide by these essential tips. Luckily, you don’t have to look too far: Telstar Inc. is one of the leading automation companies, specializing in SCADA, instrumentation, control systems, maintenance, chemical equipment, and more.

Contact Telstar today to see how we can make your work life more comfortable with the touch of a button!