Automation In Industry

Automation involves the usage of various control mechanisms to run devices such as manufacturing operations, factory machines, boiler and heat treatment ovens, telecommunications network switching, ship steering and stability,etc. Many systems are fully developed and are completely automated. These manufacturing automation are important technologies that are beneficial to an industrial company. In this article, we will define the type of automations and provide examples of how automated systems are used in manufacturing.

Fixed Automation

Fixed automation refers to an automated production facility which is facilitated by the equipment configuration and has a fixed sequence of assessing operations. It is also being referred to as a “hard automation” which in effect, the programmed directives  are contained in the machines themselves. This is in the form of wiring, cams, gears and other hardwares.This type of automation features high initial investment and high levels of output. Therefore, it is ideal for items to be manufactured in large quantities. Examples of fixed automation involve the car industry’s machining transition lines, automated production equipment, and other chemical processes.

Programmable automation

In programmable automation, products are produced  in batch quantities. These quantities range around several dozens to thousands of units at a time. However, the processing machinery needs to be reprogrammed for new batches. The reprogramming and changeover requires time to do, and with each fresh batch there is a duration of nonproductive time accompanied by a manufacturing run. Here, the rate of production is lower than in fixed automation, as the equipment is designed to facilitate product change rather than specialization of the product. A number-control-machine method is an example of a programmable automation. With every particular product type the software is programmed in the computer memory, and the programming system activates the machine device. The source are factory robotics. A numerical-control machine tool is a clear example of programmable automation. With every particular product type, the software is programmed in the computer’s memory, and the programming system activates the machine which is controlled by the program. Another example are Industrial robots.

Flexible Automation

A flexible automation refers to the capabilities of an automatic system or in simpler terms a robot that is programmed to do various tasks. You can think of it as an extension to the programmable automation. A major disadvantage of the programmable automation is that it requires quite a significant amount of time for reprogramming and changing each and every batch of new products over to the production equipment. As time is money, the hours wasted on the exchange of the new information becomes costly to the company. In this type of automation the variety of the products is limited so that the reprogramming can be done quickly to cut cost.


The future of industrial automation 

The advancement in industrial automation does not seem to slow down. The ability to manufacture products autonomously makes it more efficient in utilizing the energy, raw material and human resources. Contrary to popular beliefs, automation is not a cause of mass unemployment but the usage of the automation will be able to create even more jobs. As industrial automation advances, so does the capabilities of the automation in becoming multi functional and work autonomously.