With factories already running at maximum capacity, manufacturers look to take the friction out of their operations. Multiple process steps and countless influencing factors create highly complex, and tremendously volatile interdependent scenarios which require absolute diligence in preparation and execution at any given moment. The slightest change in the production sequence risks severely impacting quality and/or efficiency. At the very least, it will require additional effort and time to be fully evaluated, defined, and validated and can set you back.
Ultimately, manufacturers want robust, repeatable processes free from misprocessing and excess tool wait times which are common with manual interactions. There are multiple terms that describe this scenario; it can be referred to as “load and go”, “place and go” or “fire and forget”. In any case, it is simply the art of making sure that the right material is being processed on the right tool in the right order. There are a variety of ways to make dependencies visible, streamline processes, automate those processes, and guide the operators.
Before considering automating any process, you need to remember one thing about managing complexity: You cannot automate what you cannot do manually.
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