Investigating the effects of automating process chains towards sustainable manufacturing in South Africa

Hagedorn-Hansen, D. ; Steenkamp, L. P. ; Hagedorn-Hansen, E. ; Oosthuizen, G. A. (2017)

CITATION: Hagedorn-Hansen, D., et al. 2017. Investigating the effects of automating process chains towards sustainable manufacturing in South Africa. Procedia Manufacturing, 7:262-268, doi:10.1016/j.promfg.2016.12.062.

The original publication is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com

Article

Automation of processes is becoming increasingly popular within manufacturing. However, in third world countries such as South Africa, automation could lead to the loss of jobs and even higher unemployment. In order to remain globally and locally competitive, companies need to invest in new technologies of which automation is a highly influential aspect. Thus a study is deployed to determine when a company should automate a process and when a semi-automated process is sufficient in the process chain. To ensure a close to optimum operation, a balance between workforce skill development and profit needs to be determined. In this study, the effects of automating process chains were evaluated. A semi-automated process chain that included a manual labor aspect was used to manufacture small aluminium automotive components and was compared to an automated process with regards to machine effectiveness and labor resources. The automated process derived a higher profit margin due to the high availability of the machine and the lower labour costs. Suggestions were given to increase the profit margin without the loss of labour.

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