As technology advances, industrial mechanization is giving way to automation. Enterprises are adopting automated control systems, resulting in more accurate and productive industrial processes. Industrial automation engineering is the key to staying ahead of the competition and ensuring the long-term profitability of your business.
Industrial automation – the basics
Industrial automation is the process of designing, implementing, and maintaining automated systems in an industrial plant. It involves using computers and software to control machines and procedures and designing their architecture.
These days, many companies rely on industrial automation engineers and use custom software development services to design and implement systems that can automate tasks previously performed by humans. This has helped many industries become more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective.
There are four basic types of industrial automation systems: fixed, programmable, flexible, and integrated. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so consider the needs of your business before making a decision.
- Stationary Automation
Stationary automation is specifically designed to perform a single process or task, so it is best suited for repetitive and well-defined tasks. This type is typically used in manufacturing environments where equipment is fixed with a specific set of functions, and there are rarely any changes made to these operations.
However, if any changes need to be made to the production process, including changes in the design of components or raw materials, the entire system must be redesigned and rebuilt. This can be a costly and time-consuming process. In addition, if there are any problems with the equipment, it can be challenging to diagnose and repair.
- Programmable Automation
By entering computer code into the system, programmable automation components can be controlled to perform many functions quickly and easily. This makes them much more adjustable than stationary tools, which means they can be customized to the specific requirements of each product.
Programmable automation tools are widely used in all industries today, but they are particularly well suited to the packaging and material handling industries. Programmable automation can change tasks quickly; however, this type may be less reliable and require more maintenance.
- Flexible Automation
Flexible automation is the best of both worlds: the reliability and accuracy of fixed automation with the adaptability and flexibility of programmable automation.
With flexible automation, companies get computer-controlled systems that can easily and quickly adapt to changing needs. This makes it ideal for food and beverage production, where recipes or ingredients may change frequently.
There is often confusion between flexible and programmable automation because they are very similar. However, with programmable automation, users are usually limited to batch production or tasks with low variability. Meanwhile, flexible automation systems can be adapted to different types and levels of complexity in the production process.
- Integrated Automation
It combines two or more types of automation to create a customized solution that is designed to manage and streamline the use of tools and processes to achieve optimal results with minimal human effort.
This type of automation is often used in complex manufacturing environments where multiple processes need to be coordinated. They are usually used in large factories with many machines and can be expensive. However, they are very efficient and can help increase productivity.
How Industrial Automation Can Benefit Your Business
Using machines, robots, and automated systems can undoubtedly add value and help companies reach new efficiency and productivity levels. But let’s look at some of the critical benefits of industrial automation.
Increased productivity. Automated assembly lines consist of workstations connected by transfer lines; each workstation is responsible for one step in the manufacturing process. Robots can replicate many human actions, enabling continuous production. By automating tasks traditionally performed by workers, a company can free up time and resources to focus on more critical tasks. Increased efficiency can lead to significant productivity gains.
Cost optimization. The use of robotics, artificial intelligence systems, and other innovative technologies can help minimize production, labor, and costs associated with errors and downtime. In addition, automated systems often require less maintenance than their manual counterparts, reducing costs over time.
Increased quality. A company can achieve high-quality results by automating certain steps in the manufacturing process that are difficult or impossible for humans to perform accurately. This includes tasks such as welding, measuring, and packaging. Automation allows the creation of more complex products, such as electronic goods and pharmaceuticals. It can also monitor errors throughout the process and stop production until they are corrected.
Increased safety in the workplace. In the manufacturing industry, worker safety is a top priority. IoT devices can help us track equipment damage, toxic materials, or vehicle malfunctions, identifying potential hazards and taking action to reduce them.
These tools can monitor worker health by identifying risks such as toxic fumes, fatigue, and stress levels. Business owners can keep their employees safe by using this information. Ultimately, this will improve working conditions and reduce insurance costs.
Getting the Most Out of Industrial Automation
When you start automating your processes, it’s important to have the right team in place to help you deal with the challenges and opportunities that come with it. Here are some tips for using an automation engineering team:
Identify the problem you’re trying to solve. Before you automate anything, you need to define the problem you’re trying to solve. If you don’t define your objectives and goals from the beginning, you won’t be able to develop an effective solution. An industrial automation engineer can help you identify inefficiencies in your current process and determine what impact those inefficiencies are having on your organization.
Understand the business case for automation. Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, an experienced automation engineer can help you understand the potential benefits of process automation. Reduced labor costs, quality control, and increased company profitability are just a few things to consider when evaluating the business case for automation.
Choose the right technology. When it comes to automation, there are many different technologies, from industrial robots to data processing systems to programmable logic controllers. It’s important to choose exactly the right technology to meet your requirements. An experienced technical team can help you choose from the existing options on the market or develop a customized solution that best meets your needs.
Implementation of automation technology. Once you’ve chosen the right technology for your facility, working with a team of experts is vital to get the most out of your investment. Make sure you have a clear plan for implementing automation so that the process goes smoothly and you can get the most out of it.
Automation is the way to go if you want to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and significantly improve safety in the workplace. With the help of an experienced automation engineer, you can design and implement an automation solution that delivers the best return on investment and results.
Contact our experts today to learn more about industrial automation and how it can benefit your company.