Jul 10, 2020
How to Define Success and Anticipate Adjustments with Automation (Part 3 of 3)
Welcome back for part three of this mini-series on automation. In case you missed the first two posts, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In today’s post, we’re breaking down a plan to help you successfully prepare for automation and navigate adjustments throughout the process.
Let’s dive in by determining what success looks like for your operation.
Define Success Before You Start
Peter Drucker, recognized as the father of modern management, once said, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” And here at Riekes, we agree.
If you want to manage how robotic and automated solutions impact your bottom line, then you need to measure it. That’s why it’s important to define success before you start.
Most companies focus on measuring ROI - which is essential to understand the payback period, but it’s far from the only metric that tells the story of your success. Other important things to capture are financial, efficiency, and activity metrics. Lastly, don’t forget to evaluate how new initiatives support the overall company strategy.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Did it meet throughput requirements?
- Did we speed the process up?
- What are the annual labor hours saved?
- What’s the number of employees reallocated?
- Did we make the process less complicated?
- Is the process more accurate?
- Are employees happier, and has retention improved?
- Are there any downstream/upstream effects?
It’s as essential to outline the assessment plan as it is to implement automation itself. Start with these questions and define what success looks like for your specific operation.
Automation can help your operation become more efficient and profitable. But it’s important to anticipate adjustments along the way.
Here are a few things to consider when forecasting adjustments:
- Look at what happens upstream and downstream, and make sure there aren’t any bottlenecks in your process.
- Automation must be designed for the highest volume, so plan for seasonal peaks and review metrics to determine current and future levels.
- Plan for growth. It’s less expensive to build in capacity now rather than changing it later.
- Be open to change the process, infrastructure, or both. For example, you may need to install wifi or different power requirements.
- Expect bumps in the road. These systems typically need adjustments to work correctly, so allow time to test and tweak until it’s accurate.
Create a Culture for Change
Regardless of how good your systems are, company culture can make or break any project. In the past, we’ve seen employees take on the attitudes of their leaders. Therefore, encourage your leaders to speak positively about implementing new technology to keep negativity or skepticism at bay.
Do your best not to commoditize the project by letting one team control it. These are engineered systems - every application is different, so find the product and vendor that works best for your operation.
Research shows that companies who are risk-averse have a harder time getting their staff on board with new technologies. Hence, it’s crucial to create a culture of experimentation and innovation if you want to keep up with market demands and build a competitive advantage. You can achieve this by encouraging and supporting new ideas whenever you can.
Don’t forget to set the expectation that huge initiatives rarely execute without issues and delays. Prepare your people for hiccups, and stay positive when they occur.
Finally, understand the tolerance level for driving change in your organization. Change and risk can be scary, but not as scary as staying the same forever. Always keep the future in mind and encourage others to do the same.
Evaluate the Results
In the end, confirm the outcome met the company’s expectations by evaluating its results.
- Did productivity increase?
- Did safety concerns and workers’ comp claims minimize?
- Did you see a decline in product and facility damage?
- Were employees deployed to more challenging and rewarding tasks?
- Did overall performance improve?
- Does the automated solution support the overall company strategy?
Look at the overall value it offers your application, including efficiency, activity measurements, and cost-savings outlined in the beginning. Determine the ROI and evaluate the new process against the old one.
It’s not only important to see how you improved, but it’s essential to recap the project and make adjustments as needed. This process will minimize gaps and ensure your solution is as accurate as possible.
Most importantly, celebrate your success. Automation is a big deal, and everyone is watching it unfold before their own eyes. Let your people know the outcome and how it transformed the business. Use every win and success as an opportunity to build a culture of innovation and a platform for future growth.
The Time to Automate is Now
Change is inevitable - customers are expecting more, margins are shrinking, and new technologies are emerging every day. We have no choice but to become more efficient. Automation offers the manufacturing and warehousing industry a competitive advantage by performing faster and more efficiently than ever before. Competitive pressure is here to stay, and it will only grow stronger over time.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, states, “What’s dangerous is not to evolve.”
Today’s applications and systems are quickly becoming too big and complex to run manually. Working without automation and robotics is mostly unsustainable for many enterprises. Change becomes more comfortable as you gain more experience and choose to embrace it. Most automated initiatives have a strong ROI - some projects seeing immediate payback or a return in less than a year or two. Identifying opportunities for automation will pay big dividends in the future.
The time to automate is now.
But, the question is - are you ready to capitalize on it?
Call today to speak with one of our specialists today. During your free consultation, a Riekes’ expert will recommend the best solution for your specific application.
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