Industrial Automation

Industrial Automation

Industrial automation is the use of automated control systems and devices such as robotics and computer software to control industrial processes and machinery, resulting in automatic functioning of industrial processes without the need for significant human intervention. Industrial automation is implemented to make industrial production processes simpler and efficient. Furthermore, it helps to save on labor costs, eliminate the possibility of human error, save time, create a safer working environment, and achieve higher efficiency.

Industrial automation has seamlessly integrated into almost every industry, with automated systems doing everything from manufacturing to packaging, and controlling HVAC systems.

Industrial automation involves the use of a wide range of tools that incorporate different devices and systems that impact on different aspects of the assembling or production process. Some of the industrial automation tools include; PLC’s, PC’s, machine drivers, sensors & actuators, human-machine interface systems, robotics, and communication modules.

Types of industrial automation systems

Fixed automation system – This system is designed to perform fixed and repetitive tasks, and there are rarely any changes made to the operations. This system is commonly employed in mass production systems.

Programmable automation system – In this system, assembling or processing operations can be modified using electronic controls. Reconfiguring this system takes a considerable amount of time and a longer setup, and it’s usually used in batch process production.

Flexible automation system- A flexible system is controlled by computers and offers great flexibility for making changes to the assembling or processing operations. These changes can be implemented quickly through commands. This system is best suited for production processes where the product varies frequently.

Advantages of Industrial Automation

Improved efficiency

Automated systems work faster and harder than humans, and can be deployed for 24 hours in a day 7 days in a week and 365 days a year.

Automation improves quality

Industrial automation cuts out the factor of human error to guarantee products of a higher and consistent quality.

High flexibility

Introducing new production capabilities in a production line results in many training hours for operators. However, automated systems can be programmed to do any task. New production capabilities can be instantly integrated into an assembly line. This allows manufacturers to save money and time on training.

Improved safety

Automated systems remove employees from dangerous work environments such as extreme temperatures, exposure to hazardous chemicals, poor air quality, heavy objects, and other dangerous working conditions.

Higher information accuracy

Manufacturers require production-related data to make informed decisions. Manual collection of data can be costly and prone to human errors. Industrial automation allows for automated and accurate data collection using sensors and devices.

Reduces costs

Industrial automation significantly reduces operating costs. Unlike human operators, an automated system does not require things like paid leave, holidays’ healthcare cover or any employee benefits. Although the initial costs may be high, subsequent costs are lower compared to employed human workers. Moreover, industrial automation achieves higher efficiency with fewer workers which means a higher return on investment.


Industrial automation has truly revolutionized the manufacturing sector in many ways. Manufacturing is certainly a tedious process without automation. Therefore, manufacturers need to adopt industrial automation to streamline production and boost profit margins.

How to Improve Order Picking

How to Improve Order Picking

Warehouse management is easy and tricky at the same time. The stakes are high, and as such, all the logistics have to be implemented the right way otherwise face the consequences. The traditional warehouse operations have combined with today’s home delivery and online shopping creating a harsh environment for warehouse operators. One of the logistics in mind here is order picking. Order picking determines the customers’ satisfaction and the warehouse’s organization. The accuracy of the process saves time and cost as well as avoiding costly inventory errors.  This is easy with the automated systems that can track orders from the moment they are placed. However, there is still some warehouse that does both the manual and machine order picking hence the need to improve the process. Lucky for you, regardless of the order picking method, we have compiled some of the ways you can adjust the process, and they are;

Analyzing product velocity

If a product is fast-moving, why then is it slotted way back? The order pickers will waste a lot of time if they have to make several trips. Even in writing, it doesn’t seem logical. Analyzing product velocity will hence save time by exposing items that should be near the shipping dock for easy access thereby optimizing the process. Such a system helps the warehouse to know the inventory that is needed most as well.

Proper inventory slotting

Order picking need not be complicated and organizing inventory is the first step to ensuring accuracy. By putting similar products together, as well as most popular ones, it makes it easy to pick orders in any method. Whether you are using zone picking, batch picking or wave picking, if the inventory has been organized strategically, the error chances are significantly reduced.

What are the picking routes?

If order pickers aren’t sure where products are, they may circle back several times leading to time wastage. Establishing picking routes based on the information obtained from the slotting and product velocity analysis helps take the guesswork out and improves accuracy. This can apply to automatic order picking as they have selected the right items in the least amount of time.

Keeping inventory data

Order picking is reliant on accurate inventory data. The data should be accurate and up-to-date. It makes identifying products fast, and less stressing. Keeping updated inventory data also assists the warehouse from committing themselves to deliver items that are out of stock and adds to the visibility of other items. Also, it shines a light on inventory that isn’t being used saving the warehouse space and money.

Using error data

Optimizing warehouse operation and order picking process will require analysis of error data. This reduces the chance of ever repeating the same mistakes.  It keeps the order pickers on their toes as well since this data can be used to evaluate their accuracy. However, it is difficult to eliminate order picking errors but at least this way, you can minimize mistakes that can cost the warehouse tons of resources correcting them.


Thanks to the digital era, man and machine can work together to improve the order picking process. Warehouse automation is the way to go if you want to improve your efficiency. Software and robotics are being used to control the production lines. At the same time, they can be used to advance order picking as it becomes more efficient and fast. Embracing automation has led to many warehouses fulfilling their word for quick deliveries, and there have been minimal errors.

When customers get the right delivery, the credibility of your warehouse is rated highly.  Using these few ways to improve order picking will help achieve this.

What is Lean Process Improvement?

What is Lean Process Improvement?

In business, sustainability matters just like profitability. The two go together since if a process profits the company and is sustainable, no one can do away with it. One way of achieving these two factors is through managing waste. Through the lean manufacturing methods of eliminating waste, a business can reach its goals without having to endure high cost finally. This agenda shouldn’t be a one-time deal. As a business, you need to continually evaluate your processes for waste and rid off it and improve areas that need improvement. Continual evaluation of your business and the waste in your process is what lean process improvement is.

The process is directed at continually improving the business processes and can be adopted in any industry. Now, lean process improvement is guided by the 5S methodology which stands for;

Sort- seiri

By sorting things in order of their use helps reduce time wasted and take care of distractions in business processes. Any items that are least used should be relocated somewhere else to save on space and any unnecessary items or operations eliminated. Through sorting, you will reduce the clutter that may be undermining your processes.

Set in order- seiton

After sorting, the next step in lean process improvement is optimally organizing the items. Those that are used more often needs to be within reach for a smooth workflow. Keeping commonly used tools nearby, and in fixed locations will be a significant time saver.

Shine – seiso

The third-S is more of maintenance. You know very well that proper support helps avoid repair costs and improve the quality of a process.  In line with that, regular inspections, regular software updates, and always keeping the workplace clean not only ensure safety but also makes it easy to pinpoint problems before they escalate.

Standardize – seiketsu

Using the first three steps, certain things will change for the sake of lean process improvement. These changes need to be permanent and therefore standardizing processes makes it difficult to fall back contributing to growth. Whatever procedures you put in place and the schedules to be followed, they should be aimed at continuous improvement.

Sustain – shitsuke

Lean process improvement demands constant growth. Sustaining the adopted processes during the 5s methodology creates room for accountability. Training sessions, regular audits, implementing enhancements when necessary and other performance evaluation processes help promote sustainability.

Furthermore, lean process improvement shouldn’t be treated as an event. Instead, it is a mindset that organizations should use to solve systematic gaps in their processes. By viewing it as a mindset, delivering services to customers becomes easy as 123, and they do not struggle to maintain growth and improvement.

Lean process improvement, therefore, maximizes value and provides room for fast delivery. Through a scientific approach, businesses can identify opportunities, plan the processes that will achieve growth, execute implementation changes and finally review how well the changes are doing in the overall business process.

So you see, lean process improvement is essential in organizations for growth. However, if you want it to be effective, it has to be applied in all departments. Optimizing one sector of your business will mean that another will try to keep up or will be inconsistent with the new improved business structure, therefore, hurting the company. Thus, optimize all areas of your business using the 5s methodology.

Additionally, some tools have been developed to help organizations and businesses improve their processes. One of them is Nintex Promapp that manages the business process through lean tagging and tracking waste and cost.

Lean process improvement is that simple. Just follow the 5S methodology and watch your business processes improve and you will be able to keep eliminating waste.