How Business Automation is Changing Your Work

How Business Automation is Changing Your Work

When people talk about automation in the workplace, it may sound a little like science fiction. Many people imagine driverless cars, or factories run by robots. The idea of businesses becoming automated, to some, is a scary notion. But, when you think about it, we have been using automation in our daily business practices for years.


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In many ways your business is already automated. Does your facility have a security camera? That is automation. Do you have motion-sensor or timed lighting? That is automation. These are simply tasks that are more efficient for a computer to regulate. More and more business functions are being automated as technology advances, which can add efficiency and costeffectiveness to your bottom line.

Self-Helping Electronics

You would never have to walk room-to-room, manually checking each light bulb and fixture if your lighting system were automated to tell you when a bulb needed to be replaced. All of your machines—from simple printers and telephones, to large fabrication machines or generators—require timely preventive maintenance, as well as problem-solving maintenance when trouble occurs. Staying on top of maintenance is a drain on your time and your already-split attention that could be better used elsewhere.

Imagine how much simpler it could be if your printer could order its own ink when it is running low. Or how easy it would be if your HVAC system could alert you when it was time to replace the air filter. Little automated changes like this help streamline the maintenance of all the spinning wheels that keep your facility running. You would never have to walk room-to-room-toroom again, manually checking each light bulb and fixture if your lighting system were automated to tell you when a bulb needed to be replaced.

Many businesses are already using controls to heat and cool individual rooms in their building from one central location. These systems may also alert the user if any mechanical issues crop up in the heating and cooling system. What if all of your machinery could communicate with you in a similar way? How much easier would it be if a stuck elevator could tell you which part needs to be fixed? Or if your fabrication machine could tell you which rollers were stuck and why?

That is the kind of automation you can expect to start changing the way you run your business.

Inventory Control

One of the most useful ways we have implemented automation in the workplace is with automated inventory control. There are several types of inventory management solutions available today, all of which are aimed at making inventory control both more accurate and easier.

Anyone who manages a facility knows how difficult tracking inventory can be. You have to know how much stock you have of an item, how much is being used and know when to order more. With automated inventory control, the items you keep in stock are constantly being tracked. Your inventory software knows when you have hit the reorder point of any given item and can automatically put in an order for more from your proscribed vendors. Additionally, this type of automation software can then make efficient forecasting reports on how much you will need of any given item in the future, or if you have too many of something else.

Patterns and Forecasting

Automated forecasting is not only limited to inventory control. Similar automation software can be applied to any number of business elements. If you would like to know more about how your company flows—whether labor hours are costing or saving you money, or where there might be hiccups in your service flow that can be ironed out—this can be done through computer systems as well as with data analytics software.

Data analytics isn’t just for high-tower offices anymore—it has use for every kind of business there is. Data analytics is about feeding information into a computer that can then process the information into something useful—a job that could take a group of people months to do, if they got the chance to do it at all. And does this count as automation? Absolutely.

The Future Is Here

It is no longer possible to say that business in America will become automated; in many ways it already is. The role of automation in business will surely keep evolving in the future. The question is, then, in what ways can it work for you?

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The product statements contained herein are intended for informational purposes only. Such product statements do not constitute a product recommendation or representation as to the appropriateness for a specific application or use. W. W. Grainger, Inc. does not guarantee the result of product operation or assume any liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of such products.

Pub. 06/2016