The Future of Autonomous Vehicles in Production

A mixture of excitement and trepidation from staff is what you will meet when you refer to the term “automation” within the walls of a warehouse of manufacturing professionals. Staff can be ‘excited’ to hear that some of the latest technology is being brought in to improve the production process, but potentially fearful that it could reduce the demands on physical human members of the team. Automation should enhance the production process, delivering improved product lines for customers and streamlining manufacturing between different internal groups rather than replacing members of staff altogether. AVs are just one of the latest innovations to be implemented by businesses to reduce the physical demands on staff and enhance their experience by limiting health and safety risks and delivering improved quality of service.

The limitations and benefits of AVs

However, it is essential to remember that AVs that operate within warehouses are a ‘different beast’ when compared to the likes of Tesla and the other consumer autonomous vehicles currently undergoing tests on UK’s roads. Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIVs) or Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are the two main types that dominate the sector, each with their benefits and limitations.

How you introduce the production process to existing staff is the key to success or failure.

Within production or manufacturing environments, autonomous vehicles are an excellent way to perform physically demanding tasks such as shifting heavy stock, which could be crucial during times of high demand or seasonal trends such as Christmas where there is an acceleration of orders. They can also be used in hazardous or poor working conditions which could pose a risk to human members of staff such as extreme temperatures.

Considerations for smaller businesses looking to employ Automated Vehicles

It is crucial that smaller companies consider the significant financial investment required before embarking on applying automation. Fortunately, the ‘ROI’ or impact of automation can be easily measured, ensuring any decisions to invest in these forms of technology can usually be justified if needed:

  • Automation can increase productivity by reducing the time taken to perform repetitive tasks – freeing up staff to complete more technical tasks
  • It can reduce the number of product defects or faults that might have been caused by human error, increasing overall customer satisfaction
  • Processes can be easily replicated, guaranteeing all products are subject to the same tooling and care, ensuring a more consistent final result
  • Staff will be less bored as a result of the automation of repetitive or monotonous tooling processes improving satisfaction and retention levels
  • There will be less training required for members of staff
  • The automation of processes, once programmed expertly, means they should meet internal or external compliance requirements such as statutory regulations and auditing

As with any new technology integration to a business, the way the product or process is introduced to existing staff is usually the key to success or failure of its implementation. For those that consider automation a bad thing or a change to traditional methods of production, it’s important to remember that everything is changing all of the time; but when you’re so heavily involved and vested within an industry, you often don’t notice it.

Original Source: FMCG Ceo