Process automation started with the big manufacturing entities. However, automation is quickly taking shape in small and medium-sized entities as technological innovations continue to bring change to businesses globally. Competition is at an all-time high, with large monopolistic entities fearing that their competitiveness will soon be evened out.
The SMEs have not been left behind. They are slowly adopting the change as they wait to experience automation’s impact on them. This article delves into the SME sector to explain the likely impact of automation’s implementation on their operations.
Impact of Process Automation on SMEs’ Future
Process automation impacts positively on the Small and Micro Enterprises. Though the initial cost of investment in automation is high, it pays off in the end. Some of the impacts of process automation on SMEs are as follows.
- Increase production/ can compete with larger firms
Most Small and Micro Enterprises grapple with small production levels, which hinders them from competing with larger companies. Process automation will benefit them greatly as they will be able to produce in large quantities and reach a wider customer base.
Automation facilitates an increase in production in various ways. First, automation ensures speedy production. Machines such as a cobot operate at great speeds, which the human labor cannot match. Through fast and consistent speeds, SMEs can produce in large quantities.
Also, automation of processes ensures 24/7 production. Machines do not get tired, bored, or sick. They do not demand breaks or sick offs, which means they are always there for production. Hence, with round-the-clock production, SMEs can produce in large quantities and meet existing demand. Large production by SMEs means they can match the large companies’ competitiveness. An increase in production translates to higher business returns for SMEs.
- Reduce wastage
Process automation results in diminished wastages. Waste is experienced mainly during production, where slight mistakes can lead to dire losses. Automation implies using programming software to perform most if not all production processes.
Given that collaborative robots or robots operate with predefined specifications, they are precise and exact. Hence, nothing goes wrong during production, meaning very little goes to waste.
On the other hand, human workers are prone to mistakes, which may result in vast wastage within a company. Production wastes contribute to high production costs. Hence, the automation of processes minimizes waste, leading to minimal production costs for SMEs.
- Employee safety
Industrial processes comprise dangerous and life-threatening tasks. Moreover, industrial processes are tedious and involve lifting heavy equipment. Employees handling these tasks expose themselves to injuries, deterioration in health, and even death.
Automation takes up dangerous and life-threatening activities, freeing employees to focus on the health-friendly activities that they find joy in doing. SMEs that invest in automation can guarantee employee safety, leading to happy and satisfied employees. Hence, automation of processes will create a safe working environment for SMEs in the future.
- Reduced errors
Automation of processes will diminish or eliminate future production errors for SMEs. Errors are occasioned mainly when a human workforce is involved in production. Human workers can suffer fatigue and demand rest or sleep. In other instances, some workers are too lazy in their jobs and will let something pass without ensuring it happens according to set standards.
However, automation eliminates errors as all production processes are programmed through software. The programmed specifications within the software ensure the output is as required with a negligible margin of error. That way, SMEs benefit from not having to redo work, which is cost-saving for the business. Hence, the adoption of automation by SMEs will ensure minimal to zero errors and, consequently, reduce production costs.
- Quality production
The implementation of process automation by the SMEs will ensure that SMEs can produce quality products. Quality is paramount if a business is to compete at a higher level with established entities. Customers like quality and will pay more for quality goods.
Automation ensures quality production. Collaborative robots are programmed through software to work with certain specifications during production. Given that all requirements are predefined, a cobot will produce as specified, ensuring quality products. Products produced by the human workforce can be low quality, and more often than not, one can notice the difference between a machine-produced good and a human-produced product.
With quality products, the SMEs can sell more at competitive prices and can be sure of increasing their customer base. Quality products fetch high prices, meaning SMEs will generate more income from automating their business operations.
- Time and cost savings
Process automation is both time and cost-saving for a business. Time is saved where automated processes operate at high speeds, ensuring a business can meet its set targets. Also, time is saved where production can happen round the clock under minimal human supervision. Moreover, time is saved when a business can respond to customer queries and concerns in the shortest time possible.
Collaborative robots can operate non-stop without requiring rest or sleep. Also, they cannot demand to attend to emergencies as human workers do. Hence, a lot of time is saved. Also, by taking up the repetitive and tedious processes, the human workers have more time to focus on other vital areas of a business.
Cost-saving is also another positive impact automation will have on SMEs. Costs are saved in all areas of production by minimizing production costs through diminished waste. Also, labor and storage costs will reduce, meaning the SMEs will experience significant profits.
- Increase market outreach
SMEs will experience a big market outreach by automating their processes. The market outreach increases mainly because of high and sustainable levels of production. Also, SMEs will be able to produce quality products that can compete with renowned products in the market. Hence, the SMEs will witness an improvement in the market and customer outreach.
- Enhance the efficiency of operations
SMEs will experience greater efficiency in their operations if they automate their processes. Efficiency will be experienced in terms of faster production, 24/7 production, enhanced accuracy of operations, and analytics collection of data.
With that said, SMEs will benefit much from automating their business processes. The list of benefits is endless, with just a few captured above. If planning to invest in automation, do not hesitate. Go for it with all your might, and you will reap big time.