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Ensure Last mile on Manufacturing

Ensure Last mile on Manufacturing

Mar 07, 2024

Automation has long been integral to manufacturing, starting with Henry Ford's assembly line revolutionizing the automotive industry. Over time, automation has evolved from handling simple, repetitive tasks to tackling complex challenges. Today, manufacturing facilities boast a diverse array of automated machinery that produce and package goods for daily use.


Most automation in production facilities focuses on manufacturing and packaging products. Robotics handle tasks such as painting, welding, machining, and assembly, while hard automation fills, labels, and packages consumer goods like food and beverages.


Recent trends in manufacturing include companies moving production closer to customers, reshoring, and undergoing consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions. As the economy grows and labor becomes scarce, automation emerges as a solution to streamline operations.


To achieve the last mile of automation, supply chains are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) for enhanced connectivity. Smart devices and processes enable synchronized workflows, predictive analytics, and efficient production planning and maintenance.


Software forms the foundation of automation, but considerations extend to various functional areas:


Inbound Material:

Efficient handling and quality control of materials upon arrival are crucial. Automation can streamline processes for checking quality, managing inventory, and save storage space.


Material Flow Through Production:

Optimizing material flow to production cells involves ensuring timely delivery, accurate inventory levels, and appropriate materials for production schedules. Better planning and buffer management can enhance production efficiency via conveyor systems.


Finished Goods Handling:

Addressing bottlenecks in finished goods movement requires assessing dock space, trailer turnover times, and the need for inventory at manufacturing sites or distribution centers.


Automation Solutions:

Advanced software solutions like ERP and MES, along with mechatronic systems, can optimize operations and mitigate labor shortages. Accurate data analysis is crucial for selecting and implementing the right technology.


Specific automation technologies include:

- Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) for efficient material handling

- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)/Pallet shuttle car for dynamic material movement

- Pick-to-Light and Pick-to-Voice systems for accurate order fulfillment

- Various solutions for kitting operations, such as Goods-to-Person stations and zone routing.

Chain Conveyor System for material handling


WIP buffers and finished goods handling can also benefit from automation, with options ranging from AS/RS for storage to automated trailer loading and unloading.


In conclusion, while implementing last mile automation may require creativity and customization, its potential to improve manufacturing operations is significant.

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