How Automation Helps Reduce Human Error and Improves Data Quality

automation helps reduce human error

Data is the lifeblood of any organization, and its accuracy is crucial for informed decision-making. However, the risk of human error looms large and can result in costly mistakes, damaged reputation, and legal and financial repercussions. This is where automation comes in as a powerful tool that can help organizations reduce errors and improve data quality.

Automation can not only reduce the chances of human error but also increase the efficiency of processes and ultimately save time and resources. In this article, we will explore the role of automation in reducing human error and improving data quality, looking at various industries and best practices for implementation.

Understanding Human Error and Bad Data

Impact of Human Error

Human error is an unintentional mistake made by an individual in the performance of a task. These mistakes can be caused by a wide range of factors, including lack of training, stress, fatigue, distraction, and complacency.

The consequences of human error can be dire and can lead to costly mistakes that can impact an organization's reputation, financial stability, and legal compliance. According to a report by IBM, 95% of cybersecurity incidents involve human error, indicating the significant role human error plays in business operations. In the aviation industry, pilot error is the leading cause of plane crashes, resulting in loss of life and damage to aircraft. In the healthcare industry, medical errors caused by human error have caused more than 250,000 deaths annually in the US alone. In the manufacturing industry, human error can have severe consequences, such as delays in production, damaged products, increased costs, decreased customer satisfaction, and even safety hazards.

Data Entry and How It Leads to Bad Data

One common cause of human error in data management is manual data entry. Data entry is the traditional method of recording and managing information, but it is prone to errors. It can result in transposition errors, incorrect data input, and missed entries, leading to bad data.

Bad data refers to any data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent. Bad data can arise from various sources, including manual data entry errors, data integration issues, and data migration errors.

The True Price of Data Entry and Bad Data

The costs associated with manual data entry can extend beyond just the tools, equipment, and headcount needed for the task. In fact, bad data resulting from human error can be a significant financial burden on businesses. The Data Warehouse Institute reports that bad, inaccurate, or missing data costs U.S. businesses around $600 billion each year. This underscores the critical importance of maintaining data quality in any organization.

In addition to the direct financial costs, bad data also has indirect costs. A Forrester report estimates that analysts spend up to 40% of their time fixing data before it can be used for strategic decision-making. This indicates a lack of trust in a company's own data and can lead to missed opportunities for growth and innovation.

Moreover, bad data can have long-term effects on a company's operations, such as delaying product releases and misguiding strategic decisions. If operational data such as supplier information, material use projections, and financial performance are inaccurate or incomplete, it can significantly impact a company's ability to effectively serve its customers and maintain supply levels, ultimately hindering its competitiveness in the marketplace.

Automation as a Solution

How Automation Reduces Human Error and Bad Data

One of the primary benefits of automation is its ability to significantly reduce human error in data entry. Automated systems operate with a high degree of accuracy and consistency, minimizing the risks of human error. This is particularly important when dealing with large data sets or complex data, where the risk of human error can be high.

Moreover, automation can identify and flag bad data, ensuring that it is either corrected or removed from the system. This can help to improve data quality and reduce the risks associated with bad data, such as incorrect or incomplete analyses, delayed decision-making, and lost revenue.

Cost-Effectiveness of Automation

While automation can require an initial investment, it can ultimately be cost-effective for businesses. By reducing the risks of human error and bad data, automation can help to improve operational efficiency, reduce waste, and increase revenue. In a study by Smartsheet, employees estimate that a quarter of their workweek is spent doing data entry work, like collecting, copying, and cleaning data. In this report, 66% cited eliminating human error as one of the main problems automation can address. By automating these tasks, businesses can free up valuable employee time for more strategic and revenue-generating activities.

Additionally, automation can help to reduce labor costs, particularly in industries with high turnover rates or where manual data entry is a significant part of the job. Automated systems can also operate 24/7, reducing the need for overtime or additional staffing to manage data entry tasks.

Examples of Industries That Have Successfully Implemented Automation

Automation in Manufacturing

Manufacturing automation involves the use of various technologies, such as human–machine interfaces, robots and computer systems, to automate industrial processes. This technology has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, enabling companies to produce goods at a faster rate, with greater precision and quality, and at lower costs.

One of the primary advantages of using automation in manufacturing is the increased efficiency and productivity it provides. Automated systems can work around the clock without tiring or making errors, resulting in a higher output rate and faster production times. This increased efficiency can help manufacturers meet the growing demand for their products while reducing their labor costs.

Another key advantage of automation is improved safety in the workplace. With the use of robots and other automated equipment, workers can avoid dangerous tasks such as handling heavy machinery, working in hazardous environments, and performing repetitive motions that can lead to injuries over time. This can reduce the number of workplace accidents and improve overall safety for employees.

Automation also plays a crucial role in improving product quality and reducing defects. Automated systems can perform tasks with greater precision and consistency than human workers, resulting in fewer errors and defects in the final product. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as a reduction in costly product recalls or returns.

Automation in Machining

Machining automation involves the use of machines and tools to automate the manufacturing process. It includes computer numerical control (CNC) machines, robotics, and other automated systems that can operate with minimal human intervention.

Automation in machining offers numerous benefits, including increased productivity, reduced labor costs, and improved quality control. Automated machines can work faster and more consistently than human workers, resulting in higher production rates and less downtime. Automation also eliminates the risk of human error and can reduce the need for rework or scrap.

Automation also provides precise control over the manufacturing process, resulting in higher accuracy and consistency of the final product. CNC machines can perform complex operations with high accuracy, resulting in better part quality and reduced defects. Additionally, automated inspection systems can detect defects early on, allowing for corrective action before the parts are completed. Overall, automation in machining helps to improve product quality, reduce defects, and increase efficiency.

Automation in Aerospace

Automation in the aerospace industry involves the use of machines, robots, and software to perform tasks such as assembling, inspecting, and testing aircraft components. These automated systems are designed to increase efficiency, reduce production time, and enhance safety.

The use of automation in aerospace manufacturing brings numerous benefits, including improved precision, consistency, and quality control. Automated systems can also perform tasks that are too dangerous or difficult for human workers, resulting in enhanced safety. Moreover, automation can help reduce costs and increase productivity, leading to higher profitability for aerospace companies.

Automation in aerospace can improve the accuracy of manufacturing processes and reduce the likelihood of errors. Automated systems can perform repetitive tasks with greater consistency and precision than human workers. Additionally, automation can improve inspection and testing processes, reducing the likelihood of defects or flaws in aircraft components. This can lead to increased safety and reliability in aerospace operations.

Automation can significantly reduce human error and improve data quality across various industries. By automating repetitive and tedious tasks, organizations can minimize the risk of data inaccuracies caused by human error, ultimately improving overall efficiency and productivity. It also has proven to be cost-effective and helps organizations save time and money while improving the quality of their products or services. Therefore, organizations should consider implementing automation in their processes to reap the benefits of increased efficiency, productivity, and accuracy. By doing so, they can focus on their core competencies and gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.