Be it any element of a workplace, automating them is a necessity than a norm. What investments can be made to blunt the impact of COVID-19 and steer future in a sustainable direction is a question and of concern for most of us.
Automation for OHSE
As for process automation, it was born in the manufacturing industry. While we trace the roots of automation, an assembly line was a significant leap in improvements to quality, accuracy and precision.
A thermostat for temperature control in their earliest forms to the present state dictates that with the technology and automation available to us today, innovative ideas can continue to generate independent growth and success.
The gamut of industrial operations and systems positively contribute to product lead times which keep the plant running in its most advanced state. One of the main benefits is leaner operation processes that require less energy, less material and reduced waste.
One of the best arguments for automating processes is workplace safety. Some assembly or machining operations need safer approaches. Many manufacturing operations (especially chemical and pharmaceutical) work at extremely high temperatures and deal with hazardous chemicals.
Automation-based control offers another layer of protection which can be utilized towards workforce wellbeing.
Even waste management, the ultimate step of production, cannot face sheer ignorance and complacency. Industrial waste can contain mixed waste, paper, plastic, bio-waste, liquid, electronics or metals – with their increase, problems with waste collection, transport, processing and disposal have grown. Since organizations have legal liabilities towards safe disposal, any violation can lead to costly reparations.
With sensors specifically designed for sensing waste levels, industries can optimize their workforce and with fewer resources, help them configure, monitor and manage waste daily. Here, contact tracing is one major benefit (in line with the current situation) – for the long run, vigilance and recordkeeping in handling processes remain critical and life-saving.
Automation can assist personnel in areas that are deemed hazardous and require special permissions and training.
Business process automation strategies ensure product quality – automating a process as small as filling forms at entrance help organizations initiate a practice of data storage and monitoring. Worker roles and responsibilities can be better defined and they can be optimized for essential and superior errands.
Coping with the challenges ahead
Any manufacturing industry can be a complicated web of interconnected processes that may require intricate handling and minute detailing to sustain in the long run.
They can be –
- Complex order workflows that rely on multiple vendors, contracts and suppliers
- Product circulation, proper transportation and delivery management
- Quality and process control in mechanized operations
- Inventory management
- Comprehensive employee training
Several factors are linked with industrial facilities and equipment, personnel availability and training, workplace safety, company production, and quality goals. They should attain an appropriate and optimum degree of automation to ensure that the new normal isn’t phased out.
Trainings are an important part of an organization – they build an employee skillset that concurs with the company goals. Even contractors associated with the companies should stay abreast with the company practices to share and reinforce good relationships.
But since physical distancing is imperative for safe survival nowadays, activities associated with their entry – safety induction, gate-pass approvals and trainings need diligence and extra cautiousness. Paper-based information exchange can be seen as a threat to safety, as contact tracing becomes difficult here.
Conducting digital trainings and E-learning to prevent employees from unprepared circumstances can fill in the void – nothing gets missed out. Instead, they come out strong and ready in dealing their respective working scenarios.
Similarly, observations and inspections conducted on paper cannot assist you at the time of information tracking and traceability. But automating them, using softwares and mobile apps in place of them can definitely go a long way in creating a digital record of significant happenstances.
Just like robots have created a revolution in the manufacturing facilities and is working in coherence with humans, automating the conventional approaches is a beneficial and thoughtful tactic for future times. Especially in safety where risks are unpredictable and stakes at high, always.