Industrial automation is the way of the future. Companies and businesses that fail to maximize IA’s potential can find themselves behind in their industry and ultimately fall in managing their operations.

That’s why investing in industrial automation is crucial, especially in specific industries, such as construction, operations, utilities, and retail.

However, investing in something without understanding the financial impacts can result in just more wasted resources. It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the factors that will impact the costs of implementing industrial automation in your facility.

 

The different types of industrial automation

Depending on what you want to achieve and what you require for your business to function (and government regulations), the unit or system you choose will impact everything else. From the installation to the maintenance, determining your requirements, and thereby, the system you need will affect your costs for both the short and long-term.

Some of the most common types of systems include:

  • Automated cranes, conveyors and construction systems
  • Automated material handling systems
  • Computerized production and control systems
  • Safety control systems
  • Computerized planning, design, and manufacturing systems
  • Robotic storage/retrieval systems

 

What factors impact the cost of industrial automation?

Several considerations must be added to the calculations to ensure that companies understand the impact of their industrial automation. It’s important to start this process by keeping primary cost considerations in mind. Companies can expect to pay for the following:

  • The initial capital that comes with installing the industrial automation system. These units are not necessarily affordable and will take a sizable investment at the beginning to ensure it operates as expected. It should also be noted that it may take several years to see an ROI.
  • The installation of the systems will require an experienced professional that can handle these high-tech devices and systems. You will have to hire an expert in the field, such as the company supplying the products themselves, or an outside source qualified to handle it. Installation might take time and could delay some resources. After the initial installation, it should be noted that more work might be required for the unit to be 100% functional.
  • Employees will take some time to learn the new system. That results in two costs:
    • The training itself. As employees require more specialized labour to learn the software and maintain the machinery, you will have to hire experts to teach them or get in-house staff to provide them with training.
    • The time it takes to learn these systems will impact resources, thereby decreasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This is only at the start (or as new employees join), so the cost will level out once employees are equipped to handle the industrial automation systems.
  • Maintenance is crucial for industrial automation, so you will have to pay experts (which is an outsourced expense) or use internal employees (a drain on resources) to maintain the unit. Most devices are not difficult to manage, making it easy to maintain over the long term and not impacting your bottom line.
  • Unfortunately, all machinery, even automation, is susceptible to damage. You have to be prepared to pay for repairs at any moment. It could happen due to faulty equipment or neglect from employees.

Low angle view of African American lab worker examining machine part while working in a lab.

What are the benefits of industrial automation?

Looking at the above cost factors might be a deterrent for companies. But you have to consider the benefits that come with implementing modernized systems. Your business can experience the following:

  • Producing goods at lower costs. Automation will lead to significant growth of scale, helping propel businesses to compete with their competitors.
  • Customizing products that suit your customers’ needs. Automation enables you to diversify your range to create new products on the market.
  • While it might sound bleak, automation helps reduce the number of workers. But that does not mean that workers have to be dismissed. They are either trained in the new systems or assigned to other departments within the company that require additional support.
  • Employees will be able to focus their energies elsewhere, thereby increasing efficiency in the workplace.
  • Industrial automation can enable shorter lead times, quicker delivery and more efficient use of stock and cash flow.
  • It also reduces accidents, reduces the risk of human error and improves safety records. That leads to a safer workplace, happier workers and fewer delays on the operations floor.

With a firm foundation of the expected costs of industrial automation, companies can now begin planning the implementation and installation of these systems into their workplaces. Talking to leading industrial automation companies, such as CDN Controls, can help you streamline your process.