What would you do if your market disappeared overnight? It might be a scary proposition to consider what would happen if your customers didn’t buy from you tomorrow, but within the answer lies the start of your digital transformation.
Canadian brewer, Sleeman, teamed up with McRae Integration, a Toronto firm that helps factories automate, and Rockwell Automation, a Milwaukee provider of manufacturing technology, to streamline its production process. The need was compelling: Large brewers like Sleeman have been losing market share to craft brands. To compete, they need to boost productivity and increase yields while developing smaller-batch beers.
Today, Sleeman can control the line through a digital console. The new system also automatically assesses which parts of the plant can continue operating while he has stopped one portion to alter the recipe. “All of these small intuitive processes can add up to a significant reduction of the brew-cycle time,” says McRae president Andrew Bentley, who estimates four to eight hours is saved per day.
One of the key drivers of accelerated adoption of industrial robots through the 1980s and beyond was worker safety. We hear much about job losses due to robots, but little about improvements in injury rates thanks to robotic handling. Strenuous and repetitive tasks such as palletizing, or hot and dangerous part handling in metal fabrication, were given over to robots.
Every industrial robot currently requires mechanical, electrical, and software care that wasn't required by older technology. So while unskilled labor may slowly dwindle, higher-level (and therefore higher-paid) opportunities will expand.