Why do you need a Robotics Strategy ?
It is imperative for Business leaders to develop a Manufacturing 4.0 robotics strategy in order to start building their capabilities and prep their Manufacturing infrastructure for the Factory of the future. It is critical to be positioned prudently once the technology moves from emerging into maturity phase.
But that process can’t be haphazard, trying to replicate what others are doing. Few high level points that you need to keep in mind are:
- It is critical that the deployment is planned, orderly and rationalized
- Workforce and Manufacturing leadership has been educated and trained on these technologies
- Policies and guidelines have been created that will standardize applications, technologies and supplier requirements
In a nutshell, it is critical to think about planning your Manufacturing 4.0 robotics as a strategic exercise, that aligns with your organization’s manufacturing and corporate strategy.
A Suggested Approach
The proposed approach to develop and execute the Manufacturing Robotics strategy is shown in the illustration below. Following this path will help you successfully leverage Robotics as a core competency in your Manufacturing strategy.
Now we will review these fours steps at a high level to understand what each of these entail.
The high level question you are looking to answer in this stage is :
What areas in your Manufacturing operations are good first candidates and what needs to be done to prep those areas ?
This step also outlines subsequent steps and best practices to ensure a harmonious and accelerated deployment, along with selecting the type of technology that can be best leveraged for the selected processes. For an approach on selecting the technology type, please refer to the following post:
When selecting the right process, some criteria that you can use are:
- Labor Intensity
- Skill set shortage
- Too intense for manual work
- Hazardous operations
- Critical operations
- Significant reduction in total time can be achieved
- Significant improvement in Quality
Technology is efficient only when your workforce has the skill to best leverage the technology. A mindset change is needed, right from the manufacturing floor to all the way up to the C-Suite. Developing specialized Robotics and automation training and linking it to career development, by making it an integral part of performance assessment is critical. Get into close collaboration with Universities and other research centers in the Industry 4.0 domain.
As the Manufacturing environment changes, the policies also need to adapt to provide new mechanisms for improving operational efficiency. Example can be:
- Companies must develop inclusive validation process to take into account autonomous robots
- Develop safety procedures for collaborative robots
- Develop guidelines to expedite analysis of robotics applications
- Develop robot risk analysis aligned with international standards
Scaling & Industrialization
No strategy is of value if not implemented efficiently and effectively. In order to have a significant impact at the right scale, a team needs to promote collaboration, good practices and incentivize implementation across the organization.
You need to create a team that will be accountable for Manufacturing 4.0 deployment and will aid with the following:
- Build the business case in order to win support and gain buy-in through quick wins that can deliver early benefits, which in turn can fund a broader program
- Create a Center of Excellence (CoE) as a means to scale up robotic implementation and promote policies in alignment with the vision of the organization and its strategic imperatives
- Develop the Robotics Technology roadmap for next five to ten years
Views and suggested approach my own.