The competitive edge of industry nowadays depends to a considerable extent on advanced production systems and automation. Thus, it is important to understand the present status of and problems in the penetration of automation into the Israeli industry in order to recommend ways and means to facilitate this process.
Automation in industry can be considered in two phases: automation within one factory and automation between many sites and factories. Within a single factory, automation connects computer-based design and production processes between people and machines in different departments. Between factories, automation connects designers, vendors, the final production point, and the end user customer.
In the world at large, automation leads to quicker reaction to a customer's specific order, to high quality, and to production for specific orders and not for stock. Components and sub-assemblies are commonly manufactured in many countries and shipped internationally with speed and precision. This is achieved by automation of the factories, a high degree of automation between factories and technical offices, and by speedy and reliable movement of information and goods internationally.
This degree of automation is not yet widespread, but is becoming more common and is quite clearly the major direction of development.
Export products of the factories in Israel are both end user products and also components for further production abroad. There are some well-automated factories in Israel, thus demonstrating that it is possible to automate. However, even for those few well-automated factories which use computer-based communications, information is usually treated efficiently only within the factory; computer communications to customers and suppliers, a clear trend abroad, is rare in Israel. In general, the state of automation in Israel is behind the world state-of-the-art.
The time-consuming, stifling over-regulation and micro-management by government and the service sector are contrary of requirements for success in the modern industrial world. In this modern world, goods and information must move rapidly and reliably, and production work must be finished very quickly, with total quality management, and be reliably on time. If all components of the beaurocracy and service structure are not speedy and reliable, installation of automation inside industry is equivalent to installing systems to "hurry now and wait later", and will not get quality products to market with the speed needed.
This is an interim report of an ongoing study concerned with a comparative survey of automation in Israeli industry.
The report discusses world trends, gives the results of a limited survey of the Israeli metal industry, and also some recommendations on how to improve the current situation.