Industry 4.0 Foundations: Robotics & Automation


robotics.jpgOnce manufacturers have begun their Industry 4.0 journeys with improved data collection and analysis (using tools such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, System Integration and Cloud Computing), the next step is to identify opportunities for improvement. To tackle challenges related to efficiency, employee engagement or harmful environments, Robotics & Automation could be the solution.

In this increasingly competitive business landscape, manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve processes to boost their bottom line. One proven way to accomplish this is through the use of robotics and automation in production. Automation makes humans’ jobs easier by using machines, robots and control systems to automate tasks. Providing benefits to quality, employee engagement and cost savings, these powerful innovations are becoming essential for manufacturers to adopt as they seek to build “smart” factories.

Does your workplace have tasks that are:

  • Dangerous? Whether it be issues with ergonomics, environment or enforcement, some situations are just a poor fit for human operations.
  • Dirty? Some tasks are, simply put, undesirable to many workers. Associates hired to perform them are looking to move to another function in the organization almost before they have even become competent in their duties. In these positions, attendance is poor and retention often is worse. 
  • Dull? Sometimes workers are put into a job that is so mind-numbingly repetitive that it is a challenge to stay awake. Resisting the urge to become distracted can be a major hinderance to productivity.
  • Difficult? Despite the best efforts of training and standard work, some jobs require a combination of precision and repetition that are almost superhuman. Finding one team member who can perform these tasks can be nearly impossible. Finding more than one is even harder.

Robotics and automation can help by:

  • Increasing safety. Many manufacturing environments involve dangerous elements, from machinery and heavy lifting to toxic chemicals, which can easily lead to safety issues for workers. To remove this element of risk, robots and automation can be used to replace workers in these especially harmful areas and allow them to move into safer positions. With robots placed in these positions instead, the risk of human error is removed as well, helping to further increase quality and safety.
  • Allowing for greater employee development. Removing workers from harmful environments enables them to take on new, more advanced tasks. With the immense talent shortage now facing manufacturers, this can help to fill gaps in production by utilizing automation for simple, manual tasks and upskilling employees into more vital positions. Additionally, providing workers with new and more skillful opportunities will increase their engagement and loyalty to the organization, helping to support employee retention efforts.
  • Improving efficiency and eliminating variation. With human error and variation removed from certain parts of production, quality and efficiency will boom. Improvements in these areas can translate to huge cost savings for manufacturers, as robotics and automation effectively eliminate variation in production and help to reduce the time needed to complete tasks. 

Advance your facility and set your business up for success with the help of robotics and automation. Learn more about the benefits these innovations can provide by contacting and stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will explore Augmented & Virtual Reality.

Whether your company is well into its Industry 4.0 journey or just getting started, The Center’s experts can help ensure you achieve the maximum return on all investments. To assist Michigan’s manufacturers with understanding and adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, The Center has partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Automation Alley to drive awareness of the many uses and benefits of these innovations. From conducting an initial Technology Opportunity Assessment to identifying and applying relevant technologies, The Center guides manufacturers through technological implementations in a way that makes sense for their businesses.

Learn more about how The Center can support your company’s Industry 4.0 journey by contacting or visit



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Innovation, Technology