Reaching Automation's Promise Calls for Barcode Labeling

by Maureen Perroni, on July 21, 2017

Plants can only speed up if their back-end tech is up to the task.
Plants can only speed up if their back-end tech is up to the task.

While automation holds untapped new potential for the entire manufacturing industry, there are a few stumbling blocks that could stand in the way. For instance, the concept of visibility will have to evolve somewhat. Unless there are standardized, machine-readable barcode labels employed throughout the supply chain, it's hard to fathom how automated processes will be able to work to their full potential.

What's next for automation?

The future may involve complex and detailed visibility into internal practices, meaning factories are operable remotely, by employees who aren't even on-site. According to, Schneider Electric Segment Marketing Manager Ashish Patwardhan envisions a future in which all factory equipment can communicate digitally and be controlled from a personal device.

The main hindrance keeping more effective and efficient factory processes from coming into being is an entrenched attitude that states the technology is not ready. Siemens Process Simulation Expert Douglas Ortiz told the news source that once owners realize that not including new digital efficiencies in their facilities is more costly than adding them, resistance to development will fall.

While automation is sometimes viewed as a prospect that will take over employees' jobs, if implemented correctly it can make work safer and more hands-off for employees, improving their work environment. IndustryWeek pointed out that automating manufacturing processes is at its most compelling when the new workflow puts technicians out of harm's way.

Factories are getting faster and safer.Factories are getting faster and safer.

Coping with new efficiency

When automated systems speed up production, manufacturers may find themselves crashing into other technological barriers. For instance, failure to have an adequate labeling system can slow the assembly line down. This is where modern, standardized barcode labeling systems prove their worth to manufacturers.

Even when the products being made are unique and require their own labels for automatic sorting, these systems can keep up. Lack of good labeling options may thwart factories' efforts to become more efficient in other ways.

For more on labeling in the manufacturing space check out our recent report on that topic.

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