Automation: The ball is in your court

11 April 2018

The 4.0 Factory era – the Fourth Industrial Revolution – is that of automation. In Quebec, the SME automation rate is 39%, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

This is the highest rate in the country, but don’t get too excited: our competitors are doing much better than us. In the United States, 55% of companies are at least 50% automated. In Germany, the level of automation reaches 75%, according to MCI magazine.

In fact, the reasons to automate your business are more compelling that ever:

  • Several sectors are facing a skilled labour shortage. This is especially true in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.
  • Our productivity is lagging behind many other countries.
  • The rise of American protectionism is forcing us to become more competitive.
  • With the shift to 4.0 factories, more and more technologies are available for local companies (exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, collaborative robots and augmented reality).

If you want to automate your factory, it’s a good time: close to $825 million has been made available to companies as part of the “Manufacturiers innovants” strategy, an initiative by a group of public and private partners.

A positive transformation

Automation drives positive change in the factory and business models. It increases the productivity and competitiveness of businesses, as well as of our economy. It also positively effects the daily lives of workers and how their work is organized.

“Despite what you might think, automation does not cut jobs. In many cases, it creates them,” explains Véronique Proulx, President of MEQ, a Quebec-based association of manufacturers and exporters.

Automation creates work by transforming the tasks to be done. It frees workers to perform higher value functions and makes jobs more attractive.

The jobs created are also less taxing physically, which is good for the well-being of workers, and makes factory work more accessible for women, for example.

The work environment also benefits: there is less dirt and noise in the factory, which makes it more interesting for future generations of workers.

How to avoid hitting a wall: automation

Are you ready to conquer new markets? You can’t just increase your production. You must also increase your packaging capacity to avoid hitting a wall.

Without adequate preparation, packaging stations quickly become a bottleneck.

The lack of efficiency will be felt and delivery delays will multiply. Your employees will not be able to compensate, because packaging is a job that cannot be done faster without jeopardizing reliability and safety.

The solution? Automation. According to our experience, mechanization generally results in productivity gains ranging from 20% to 40%. However, automation results in gains of up to 60%, not including the elimination of overtime.

To get the best return on investment, you first have to rethink the entire packaging process. Then you have to find the right methodology and the effective recipe, after a precise diagnosis. Then, and only then, can you think about automating your process.

If you have questions about automation in your factory, contact our experts.