Streamlining Manufacturing Jobs and Operations with Automation


Depositphotos_434431166_XL.jpgAutomation has many benefits for small and midsize manufacturers, and in today’s competitive job market, augmenting your workforce is a big perk. Automation, in general, enables machines to perform functions with minimal to no human intervention. Whether you use cloud-based software to analyze data or employ robotics equipment to make work easier and safer for existing staff, automated tools can boost productivity and morale across your organization. Below, we explore four common applications of automation that Michigan manufacturers can leverage to improve quality and efficiency and enhance the work—and workplaces—of human employees. 

Predictive Maintenance: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) refers to a network of sensors and other devices that gather and share data about a manufacturing process. In an industry where equipment failures can, at best, lead to costly downtime and dissatisfied customers, and at worst, put employees in danger, technology can proactively identify risks and facilitate repairs before failures occur. Recognizing and fixing anomalies proactively can also extend the life and improve the performance of high-value equipment. 

Materials Movement: The movement of supplies, raw materials, and finished products has always been a challenge in our industry, and for generations, humans have been tasked with lifting, pulling, or otherwise transporting large, heavy, and dangerous objects throughout warehouses and factories. Conveyor belt systems were one of the first forms of industrial automation and continue to be refined by advanced technology. Today, autonomous robots join automated conveyor systems in performing transportation functions, from mobile carts that can be programmed to traverse facilities to machines that can help humans safely load products into trailers, or insert raw materials into tooling machines. These innovations enhance safety, reduce repetitive strain, and increase efficiency—a win-win for companies and employers alike. 

Quality Control: In addition to monitoring machines, the Industrial Internet of Things can provide crucial insights into the quality of products from start to finish within a factory. Smart sensors and cameras paired with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software can inspect items, extract data about their condition, uniformity, and other characteristics, and analyze and share this data with human users throughout the production process. This helps people avoid repetitive tasks, improves efficiency, and enhances quality by both identifying defective products and gathering and storing data for further analysis and trending. 

Picking, Packing, and Palletizing: Using robotic technologies to pick and pack products can reduce damage, preserve valuable floor space, and, once again, make employees’ jobs safer and more fulfilling. Collaborative robots can work autonomously or alongside human workers and, with the addition of grippers or end-of-arm tools, vision systems, and flexible software, can identify, select, and pack products. This improves efficiency and reduces the risk of injury and job dissatisfaction among employees.  

In today’s world, manufacturers continuously seek new ways to put technology to work, complementing and extending the work of human professionals. With ongoing workforce shortages impacting Michigan manufacturers, automation can help companies maintain efficiency, quality, and reliability no matter what is happening in the job market. It can also make manufacturing jobs more appealing to workers by reducing the number of dangerous, dirty, or monotonous tasks they must perform. If you are interested in automating one or more of your work processes, connect with an MMTC Business Solutions Manager to request a free Technology Opportunity Assessment and determine the most appropriate Industry 4.0 technologies for your process and identify grants and other potential funding resources. Our team’s decades of experience in manufacturing and technology can help your company prepare for a thriving, technology-driven future.


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, Continuous Improvement, Data & Trends, Industry 4.0, Innovation, Smart Manufacturing, Workforce