The Cambridge dictionary defines automation as "the use of machines or computers instead of people to do a job, especially in a factory or office"". There is an inherent sense of manpower replacement. In a culturally sensitive region like South East Asia with affordable and available manpower, how do you navigate your automation plans?
The best approach is to have a very solid progressive implementation plan on automation. A plan that your team and the pool of current resources buy in to, a plan that does not thrive purely on manpower reduction as the basis for payback, a plan that requires phased out moderate capital deployement. With such a plan you basically pay through savings for the next phase.
Lets take the movement of cartons from your packing area to your warehouse as a case study. The activity has multiple steps with different manual problems:
1. Palletizing: Most plants build pallets in packing area, there by making the area congested and prone to errors.
2. Conveying: Hand trucks are used to move the pallets out making the process slow and space intensive.
3. Manual sorting for loading is again slow and error prone in dispatches.
The best way would be to divide the project in 3 parts, work on payback for each part and go from highest to lowest like a self funded start up. All the best"