Automation is one of the most talked-about concepts in the fields of technology and business. Automation is a controversial topic, with many people passionate about either denouncing or defending it. But what exactly is the truth about automation? In this guide, we will delve into what exactly automation is and whether it may be a positive or a negative thing for society.
What Is Automation?
Webster’s dictionary defines automation as “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically”. Automation requires human input initially (at least for now!), but after this initial programming, automated machines or systems can carry out tasks for at least a while without outside input.
Automation is linked closely to the field of robotics, although automation is a broader term and incorporates examples of machines that long predate anything that could be described as robotics.
Advantages of Automation
There are various advantages of automation, most notably the following:
Increased Speed of Production
The main advantage of using automation is how much more efficient it can be than carrying out tasks using human labor. This makes automation particularly beneficial for businesses in sectors such as manufacturing, where machines and AMR solutions can carry out working operations at a higher speed than human workers usually can.
Increased Accuracy of Results
Increased speed of operations would not be particularly useful if they weren’t also carried out with a high level of accuracy. Well-designed automation systems and machines can replicate tasks with an accuracy that goes beyond the ability of human workers.
Another huge advantage of automation is that of workplace safety. Instead of placing human workers into potentially dangerous situations, machines or robots can be used. For example, robots are used to defuse and dispose of bombs, and drones are used for military purposes as an alternative to risking human lives.
Disadvantages of Automation
While there are plenty of advantages of automation, it is not without its disadvantages:
Cost of Machinery
Robots and other automated systems can be expensive for businesses to purchase. However, if you are able to afford the upfront cost, the long-term savings are likely to make this very profitable.
Reduced “Human Touch”
Automation is ideal for repetitive tasks on an assembly line. If your business is carrying out mass production of specific products, it can be great. However, if you want each product to be unique, the handmade human touch may be preferable.
Because automation is so effective, many people have expressed concern over how it could affect the job market and the wider economy in general. Critics of automation argue that if human workers are replaced by robots, this can lead to poverty and inequality.
How to Make the Most of Automation for Your Business
To make the most of automation while avoiding or minimizing the drawbacks, business owners can potentially incorporate a hybrid workforce of both automated machines and human workers. This can be the best of both worlds, with machines replacing repetitive, difficult, or dangerous tasks while human creativity programs them and decides on the direction of the company.