What is automation and why is it important?

Digital transformation is in full swing in all industries today, an evolution that has been further accelerated by the corona pandemic. The term "digitalize or die" illustrates the importance of this shift – digitalization is no longer an option but an essential adaptation that organizations have to make in order to survive.

Digitalization has many advantages, most notably the great efficiency gains that can be made. Digitalizing and automating work processes that today require extensive manual handling is often a good place to start.  

Let's take a closer look at automation and how you can easily get started.

What is automation?

Automation means that a process that was previously performed manually is instead performed automatically by a system or software. In essence the process is streamlined with the help of technical solutions. With today's technology, many work processes can be automated, creating notable benefits and improvements to an organization’s ways of working.

Through automation, organizations are able to:

Reduce the risk of errors and provide a more reliable process

Regardless of how good we think we are, when information is entered manually, there is a risk that something will go wrong. After all, we are only human, and the human error will sooner or later reveal itself. An error here and there does not have to have any major consequences, but if you are unlucky, a small and innocent mistake can be extremely costly for you or your customers. An automated process minimizes the risk of errors and improves the reliability of the process itself.

Reduce vulnerability in the absence of key personnel

A manual process depends on key personnel actually being on-site. When a key person is unavailable through illness, holiday, or some other unforeseen life event – it can unfortunately impact the process and create unnecessary bottlenecks. An automated process, on the other hand, runs regardless of whether key personnel are immediately available or not.

Work around the clock

Manual processes become stationary outside office hours. An automated process, on the other hand, can run around the clock during every day of the year. Talk about an efficiency boost!

Improve scalability and increase competitiveness

An automated process can handle more cases in less time and with fewer resources when compared to a manual process. This means that the ability to scale up operations is boosted, especially for smaller companies.

Examples of processes that can be automated

There are many different processes that can be automated at a manufacturing company. These include:

  • Order handling
  • Customer service
  • Resource management and planning
  • Quality assurance and quality control
  • Product management

Processes linked to finance, marketing and sales can also be automated.  

How to get started with automation

It is easy to see the many benefits that come with automation. The hard part is actually getting started. Here are our top tips for getting started with automated processes:

  • Pick the low-hanging fruit first. It may sound like a well-worn cliche, but there’s great wisdom in the advice to start your automation journey with something that can provide quick efficiency gains. It shows the organization that automation actually works and increases the opportunities to get important decision-makers onboard who can further speed up your automation journey. Choose a process that you already have a good idea of, and that you fully understand. Document the process and then go ahead and automate it as a first step in your automation journey.
  • It does not have to be all or nothing. That is, you do not need to automate the whole process all at once. Start by automating small parts of it before building further automation later on.
  • Avoid being disruptive to how people work. Start with minor changes and include your key people in the change work. It will create a positive attitude towards the new technology among your employees.

When you've decided to automate, it's however easy to stare blindly at all the obstacles you can encounter along the way and struggle to know where to begin. Read about six common automation obstacles and how to get passed them to be prepared for potential difficulties.

Dare to trust the technology

Automation means to some extent that humans hand over control to technology. For those who are used to manual processes, it can feel like a big step and a bit of a leap of faith. Not everyone would jump at getting into a self-driving car for the first time! It's scary at first, but those who dare to trust technology and continue their automation journey have everything to gain and very little to lose.

So how can you see the impact of automation? Why not take a look at Bäck AI – a solution that integrates automation into your existing systems and streamlines your processes. Meta Bytes developed Bäck AI because we experienced how many of our customers in manufacturing industries struggled with inefficient processes that required a lot of manual handling.  

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