Could Robots Combat Crises like Covid-19?

30 June 2020
Bring back home production
Mikkel Viager, Automation & Robotics Consultant at Gain & Company
Mikkel Viager
Automation & Robotics Consultant
,
Gain & Co

Why read this: By reducing manual labour and optimizing production processes, automation might help combat crises like Covid-19. This optimization could  help bringing production closer to home and reduce vulnerability from long supply chains – but what should you consider before such a move?

The current crisis can be an opportunity to start automating

The last couple of months have turned our daily lives upside down. I think it’s safe to assume that it’ll take a while before things return to normal. Our working day in particular has undergone a lot of change, and companies around the world struggle with the new reality.

Many companies have begun asking themselves: How can we secure our operations and better prepare ourselves for future challenges like these?

As an independent robotics advisor, I meet a lot of manufacturing companies. Many of them view the current crisis as an opportunity to initiate their automation projects: “If only we’d begun sooner, our robots would have been up and running by now, at a time when we really need them.”

Many companies realize that automation can be a way of preparing for similar events in the future.

Automation can be an appealing alternative to outsourcing

Several companies also view the Covid-19 crisis as compelling reason to move their production closer to home. As wages rise in countries where production has been outsourced to, the benefits of this practise seem to decrease.

The logistical challenges brought forth by Coronavirus and the quarantine have suddenly made the choice of keeping production closer to home more appealing.

But before one brings home the entire production, considering the most suitable processes for automation can be a good strategy. Here are a couple of rules to follow that will reduce the risks connected to bringing company processes home:

 

  • Focus on processes where quality is essential
    Bringing processes closer to home often enhances product quality. If the process currently has quality issues, this point is even more important.
     
  • Processes requiring high staffing are often good candidates for automation
    A lot of the time, processes that require high staffing abroad can typically be automated and then handled by few but skilled employees in your home country.
     
  • Choose processes that employees can easily perform
    If the process is difficult for employees to perform, a potential robotic solution will most likely be correspondingly expensive and complex. Begin with the low hanging fruit and automate simple tasks.
     
  • Formulate and define the success criteria for bringing the production home
    In some cases, saving money by bringing home production is simply unrealistic. Save time and money by determining in advance if this is the case.

 

Conclusion

Whether or not you should bring home production also strongly depends on your industry, production processes, and company type. Nevertheless, the points I have mentioned are things worth considering if you plan on bringing home your production – and want to prepare yourself for challenges like Covid-19 in the future.