What does industrial automation include?

What does industrial automation include?
Darrius Drew
Manufacturing and machinery/Other
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Nowadays, the highly increasing competitiveness in the industry demands high state-of-the-art products at a competitive price. To meet this challenge, many industries are considering various new designs and integrated manufacturing techniques in parallel with the use of automated equipment.

One of the remarkable moves to solve the above challenge is industrial automation. Industrial automation facilitates improved product quality, reliability, and production speed while reducing manufacturing and design costs by adopting new, innovative, and integrated technologies and services. It’s not just microswitches and contactors; it’s often entire production lines.

Why industrial automation?

To increase productivity. Automating a factory, manufacturing or processing plant improves the rate of production through better control. It helps mass production by drastically reducing the assembly time of each product while maintaining higher quality

Ensuring optimal operating costs

Integrating various processes in the industry with automated machines minimizes the time of given cycles and effort, thereby reducing the need for human labor. Thus, investment in employees is saved through automation.

Since automation reduces human involvement, the possibility of human error is also eliminated. Consistency and product quality can be maintained through automation by adaptively controlling and monitoring industrial processes at all stages, from product creation to final product.

Reduction in routine checks

Automation completely reduces the need to manually check various process parameters. Using automation technologies, industrial processes automatically adjust process variables to set or desired values using closed-loop control techniques.

Increase the level of safety

Industrial automation increases the safety level of personnel by replacing them with automated machines in hazardous working conditions. Traditionally, industrial robots and robotic equipment are deployed in risky and dangerous locations.

Types of industrial automation systems

“Hard” automation

This type of automation is used to perform fixed and repetitive operations to achieve high production rates. It uses special purpose or dedicated equipment to automate assembly or processing operations with a fixed sequence. Once applied, it is relatively difficult to change the product design. Therefore, it is inflexible in providing product variety, but increases productivity at higher production rates and reduces unit cost.

Programmable automation

In this automation, a specific class of product changes, and assembly or processing operations can be changed by modifying the control program in the automated equipment.

This automation is best suited for mass production where the product size is medium to large. But in this case, it is difficult to change and reconfigure the system for a new product or sequence of operations. Therefore, a new product or reconfiguration of an operation sequence requires a long setup.

“Flexible” automation

This automation system provides control hardware that offers great flexibility for making changes to the product design. These changes can be made quickly using commands issued in code form by operators.

This automation allows manufacturers to produce multiple products with different scopes as a combined process rather than separate ones.

Main article photo: Designed by Freepik

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