THE IMPLICATIONS OF AUTOMATION IN A SELECTED AUTOMOTIVE ASSEMBLY ORGANISATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Improving productivity in the manufacturing system is the core objective of all manufacturing companies as it determines how well the company utilises its resources compared to requirements. Emanating from a continued demand for efficiency and productivity, automation becomes the key driver in such an achievement. Thus, automated flow line manufacturing systems are becoming more relevant in the automotive sector. This study examines the influence of automation for productivity improvement in a selected automotive assembly organisation in South Africa, automation being the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services. The study was quantitative in design and examined the production of an automotive assembly organisation that has adopted an automation system for productivity improvement in its automobile Deck Tailgate process in its weld plant. This company operates in the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The study was conducted by collecting pre- and post-quarterly data for labour productivity and process efficiency. The results established that labour productivity and process efficiency improve as a result of the application of automation. However, automation will lead to the reduction of human participation in the production systems. This may result in uncertainties amongst employees that must be properly communicated and managed. The original value of this study is its approach in uncovering strengths and weaknesses of automation for productivity improvement in South Africa.
Automation, Automotive Assembly Organisation, Deck Tailgate, Downtime, Labour Productivity, Process Efficiency, South Africa