The Human Touch in Manufacturing: Why Automation Systems Should Be Complemented

Stephen Odzer

September 14, 2023

Stephen Odzer-Automation System

While manufacturing automation has undoubtedly revolutionized the industry, it’s essential to recognize that the human touch still holds value.
This article explores why human workers should complement automation for a harmonious and productive manufacturing environment.

1. Complex Decision-Making and Creativity

Automation excels at repetitive and predefined tasks but struggles with complex decision-making and creative problem-solving. Human workers can adapt to unforeseen challenges, find innovative solutions, and make judgment calls. Combining automation with human expertise allows companies to leverage both strengths for optimal results.

2. Customer-Centric Customization

In today’s consumer-driven market, customization is key. While automation can efficiently produce standardized products, it often falls short for highly customized or one-of-a-kind items. Human workers can provide the craftsmanship and attention to detail required for personalized manufacturing, catering to niche markets and discerning customers.

3. Flexibility in Unpredictable Situations

Manufacturing environments can be unpredictable. Unexpected machine breakdowns, supply chain disruptions, or sudden production requirement changes can wrench automated processes. Human workers can step in during such situations, adapt quickly, and keep operations running smoothly, minimizing downtime and production losses.

4. Continuous Learning and Adaptation

Humans possess the capacity for continuous learning and adaptation, which is essential in rapidly evolving industries. They can acquire new skills, stay updated with emerging technologies, and implement process improvements. This adaptability ensures that manufacturing processes remain efficient and competitive in an ever-changing landscape.

5. Quality Control and Inspection

While automation is excellent at maintaining consistency, human workers are often responsible for the final quality control and inspection stages. They can detect subtle defects that machines may overlook, ensuring that only products meeting the highest standards reach the market. This human touch is invaluable in maintaining a company’s reputation for quality.

6. Ethical and Moral Considerations

Ethical and moral considerations come into play in certain industries, particularly those involving intricate or delicate tasks. Automation cannot make ethical judgments or consider the broader societal impact of production decisions. Human workers can provide ethical oversight to ensure that manufacturing practices align with societal values.

7. Maintaining a Skilled Workforce

A complete shift to automation can lead to job displacement and a loss of skilled labor in the manufacturing sector. Maintaining a skilled workforce is essential for business continuity, fostering innovation, and maintaining industry expertise. Complementing automation with human workers helps preserve valuable skills and experience.

8. Human-Machine Collaboration

The future of manufacturing lies in the collaboration between humans and machines. By integrating automation into the workforce, companies can create a symbiotic relationship where humans oversee, troubleshoot, and improve automation systems. This collaboration maximizes efficiency and quality while harnessing human ingenuity.

9. Employee Satisfaction and Well-being

Human workers play a vital role in maintaining a positive workplace culture. Their job satisfaction, creativity, and well-being contribute to a motivated and engaged workforce. Companies prioritizing their employees’ well-being are more likely to attract and retain top talent, leading to long-term success.

10. Adaptation for Smaller Manufacturers

For smaller manufacturers with limited resources, full-scale automation can be cost-prohibitive. Complementing their workforce with automation on specific tasks allows them to compete effectively while preserving the unique qualities that set them apart from larger competitors.