Islands of automation is an automated sub-system that is not integrated with other systems/subsystems with which it interacts.
In other words island of automation is a condition in which automation systems or technologies are not able to communicate with each other and are not integrated into another system.
In automation system, process or operations takes place with the help of less manpower and with the use of special instruments and devices to check the manufacturing process.
Examples of Islands of Automation
- Computer-Aided Design (CAD): It is used to generate, modify, and documents engineering designs. It is also used to analyze the design, optimize the design and review the design.
- Computer-Aided Manufacture(CAM): This is a computer technology that helps in planning and control of manufacturing process
- Computer Numeric Control machines(CMC): It stores computer programs and process basic numerical control functions.
- Automated Material Handling System(AMHS): It contains material handling instruments like trucks, conveyors, cranes, robots, monorails, etc to transport and control materials.
- Computer-Aided Process Planning (CAPP)
- Computer Control System (CCS)
- Group Technology (GT)
- Flexible Manufacturing System(FMS): It contains a set of process stations that are internally connected and handled by an integrated computer system.
Why do islands of automation happen?
Islands of automation happen due to an unsystematic approach with regards to IT planning and infrastructure. It also happens because of the unintegrated establishment of database, systems & application, and absence of coordination between internal departments.
Disadvantages of islands of automation
- In an organization procure-to-pay process has many steps. Unconnected systems for purchase order issues, approvals of order requisitions, and purchase approvals consume much more time. Not only time-consuming but also an absence of transparency, increasing errors for authorization also happen.
- The Order-cash flow process contains the fulfillment of customer orders for goods or services. Lack of connection between the internal applications and lack of communication with the customer leads to delayed service, uneven revenue, an unsatisfied customer.
- All companies use human resource management systems. Managers, supervisors, administrators all use this system to analyze the HR data like uses of resources, payroll data, skill management, training, etc. If there is no integration between HR data, it is difficult to analyze.
- ERP and CRM systems of the company should connect properly. Sometimes it is difficult to connect them because of the different versions and different upgrade processes. No integration between them leads to a mismatch of customer details like customer profile, contact data, order details, discounts, etc.
How to solve islands of automation?
There are some ways to solve this problem by communicating the below scenarios.
- Collective data for analyzing and reporting: While analyzing data the company must have collective data. For example, if you want to get purchasing cost, one of the best-integrated technology ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) helps to get aggregate data for analytics. First, you need to extract the data from multiple sources. After that, you need to transformed data into one structure and then load the data into the database. This ETL system is one of the best solutions for islands of automation problems.
- Integrate the information between applications: There will be a chance of presenting the same information in two separate applications. With the help of application integration technology, we can solve this problem.
- Use B2B integration solution: While interacting with external companies you may face problems because of the lack of control and variations in data. Business to Business (B2B) integration solution helps to overcome islands of automation by integrating the CRM, ERP, and financial system and automating the purchase-to-pay cycle.
Benefits of eliminating islands of automation
As the company grows it uses multiple applications to perform its daily process and to fulfill its needs. This leads to islands of automation problem. When it avoids or solves this problem, the gets the following advantages.
- Integrated systems help to avoid duplication of information
- Saves time by avoiding entering the same information in different applications
- Helps the employees to develop their efficiency and skill as they learn only one application thoroughly instead of learning many applications
- Increases productivity
- Minimize the errors by avoiding manual entry
- Helps to get complete and accurate reports quickly and easily
Get more definitions about islands of automation and other ERP related terms here.