Strategic automation is an approach that systematically develops the decision basis for choosing the right level of automation of your production process. A current situation analysis shows the value-adding time and work operations, as well as the automation levels of the production system. The mechanical part of the system and the information needed to perform the task are assessed. Scenarios for future automation are developed.
Choosing and investing in the "right" automation is a process closely intertwined with the company's business concept. The focus is customer demand for what the company can deliver today, what the company will need to deliver in the future and what the customer will want in the future.
Strategic automation places focus on the sections of production which are most important to develop. The starting point is the flow through production in order to identify current and future improvement and development needs. In dialogue with production and company management, prioritisation and delineation for further study are made. A production cell or a limited manufacturing section are selected. A careful analysis is made of all operations carried out in this section. The study is done in close dialogue with both production management and operators.
The results of the present situation analysis are presented in two sections:
1: In figures: How long is the cycle time for the selected product, what proportion of time adds value, how many operations are carried out and how many of these add value.
2: In a graph: What level of automation exists in this section of production, based on two criteria: Mechanisation level and the rate of cognition/information to the operators and the equipment.
The company is given the presentation in a workshop attended by senior management, production management, technicians and operators. A picture of the function of the production section is provided on the basis of the two sections above.
Based on the current situation analysis, scenarios are developed to create the decision making basis for automation in the company – a guide for future automation of production. The goal is to choose the right machinery and information system and, through these choices, to secure the skills to achieve an efficient and flexible production in the company, now and in the future.
Several current situation analyses have been carried out in manufacturing companies.