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Robotics in Business

What benefits and issues have robotics brought businesses such as Mini?

Business technology encompasses a wide range of hardware, software, and services that keep companies running and enhance operations. Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans usually in a production line.

Robots can be programmed to do extremely specific tasks and so, after they have been programmed, they usually complete their tasks to the standard they have been set to do it at. Robots also have reduced errors and can do a task multiple times without getting tired or decreasing quality, meaning efficiency is increased. Therefore, Mini introducing robotics into their body and white part of the factory would be a major advantage, as robots could complete much more work in a shorter time frame, especially with repetitive tasks such as welding, bolting, etc. It is also important that robots will do this to a much more precise level of completion, as they do not have a human error aspect. Mini will therefore gain a larger product quality, increased positive sales feedback, and therefore potentially even more sales. However, robots can occasionally go wrong and they may become imprecise, which could affect many vehicles before a fault is detected. Despite this adding, robots will heavily increase the quality of each product and vastly increase the productivity, so with Mini’s routine checks every few vehicles, the small costs of errors will be largely ruled out by the extra revenue gained through productivity and precision, making this a major advantage to Mini.

As robots are not living creatures, they don’t get tired and are created for a purpose; they do not need paying, nor do they need many (or any) breaks. This makes them more productive and cheaper than employing people and can save a business a lot of money by implementing them. With Mini, their body and white department would have included over 4,000 low-skilled employees completing simple and repetitive tasks, which all need paying and breaks. This would have been a large expense to Mini every year. By employing robots instead, they would have saved thousands upon thousands of pounds in this department, as many of these jobs could have been completed by robots. However, by employing robots, they would need to pay millions of pounds worth of setup costs, which would cause a major reduction in profits for the company (as profit = revenue – costs). Despite this, I still think that the amount saved by the vast amount of employees they had in this section would make the investment more than cost effective for this part of the factory, making the savings they would gain in the long run from using robots, instead, a large advantage for Mini.

With using technology and robots, there is always a danger of them breaking and therefore disrupting production because, after implementing, there is usually very little or no alternative to use in order to continue production. This will create a break in the line and so no goods can be produced. This will come as a large cost through revenue and productivity lost to a business and may potentially last a long time if the problem is not resolved quickly. To Mini, for example, in the body and white department, they have no production employees; the only people working in there are engineers and inspectors/testers to assure quality. This means, if the robots broke, there would be no alternative production method in the short run and so no car bodies woul be created. This will therefore mean that Mini will suffer a loss in revenue, productivity, profit, and possibly even reputation if deliveries are late, because without a body, no cars can be made. If a new robot is needed, then it may take a lot of time to get this implemented and therefore Mini’s costs will only rise. Therefore I feel that, to Mini, specifically, who rely on the robots so much, this is a major disadvantage of having them in their production line.

In conclusion introducing robotics into the body and white section of the Mini factory at Cowley has created a big issue: If the robotics are to break, then Mini’s factory/production line will be rendered unproductive completely, as the body is the foundation of a car in which you build on, so without this, you cannot build a car. This will cause the company costs through productivity, revenues and profit, and almost destroy their production in the short run. This could go on to cause other things such as bad reputation and complaints through late deliveries, which would further damage their business. Despite this, however, introducing them has also brought many benefits, including the huge increase in productivity and quality through cutting human error almost completely from this department. This has increased the quality of the products and even the brand’s reputation as a whole, so I would therefore say that this outweighs the disadvantage of having them. Also, the amount of money through cost savings of cutting the people and wages they need from their company will be much more in the long run than that of what they spent on the robots. Therefore, I overall would say the robots have helped to not only make Mini’s products better, but to also make their brand and company as a whole a much more productive and successful company.

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