The word automation was first coined by the automobile industry in the US. It indicates the automatic handling of various phases in a production process. 3D technology and modern computers have extended the scope of automation. Robotics, CNC machines, and other computer-controlled devices are the best examples of the modern day industrial automation tools. The capabilities of automated devices are not limited to controlling sequence of events. Advanced industrial robots are capable of making critical decisions during production processes. Some of the examples of automated industrial processes are:
- Packaging and material handling
- Quality control and inspection
- Metal fabrication; machining, welding, cutting, cladding etc.
- Food and beverage processing
- Planning and decision making
Advantages of industrial automation
Automation enables manufacturing companies to achieve a rapid increase in productivity by exploiting the potential of automation technologies. When we think of automated manufacturing systems, the first thing that strikes our minds is robots. As mentioned earlier, the automotive industry was the first to adopt robotics. Following the technological advancements in the last couple of decades, small businesses can now afford to automate their production systems and improve operational efficiency. Some of the benefits of automating manufacturing processes are:
- Dramatic increase in output
- Low production costs
- Improved environment for employees
- Unprecedented control over product quality
- Uniformity and consistency in repetitive tasks
- Convenience in performing hazardous tasks
Related: Industrial Automation: A Path to Flexibility and Competitiveness
Types of industrial automation
- Rigid or hard automation: Rigid automatic systems are special equipment use to streamline specific processes. In hard automation, it is hardly possible to facilitate the modifications in product design. Industries which have to produce stable and sustainable product designs for a long period of time go for rigid automated systems.
- Programmable automation: This type of technology is used to produce products in batches. A production system has to be reprogrammed in order to get a new batch of products with different specifications. Programmable automated devices are designed to facilitate product changeover. The process to reprogram a production machine, however, is time-consuming.
- Flexible automation: It is a more sophisticated and refined form of programmable automation. Unlike programmable automation, flexible or soft automation allows to automatically and quickly changeover the equipment. A mixture of different products can be produced consistently without wasting time.
The initial cost of automating a facility, production plant, or factory can be high. However, automation technology is inevitable for industries that need to increase productivity and meet the growing market demands.
BP Automation is a reputable automation engineering company in Canada where we solve complex manufacturing problems and develop economically viable machines and control systems for companies of varying sizes. Feel free to discuss your project with us!