An introduction to the concept of industrial automation, its advantages and different types of industrial automation used in manufacturing processes.
What is Industrial Automation?
Industrial automation is the use of certain technologies and automatic control devices to reduce human intervention in mechanical, quality control and material handling processes. Reduced human intervention also means better performance than manual control. Industrial automation companies automate various processes through the use of mechanized equipment and logical programming commands. Such equipment include programmable logic controllers, computers, input-output modules, etc
What are the Benefits of Industrial Automation?
- Increases Productivity – Automation results in better control of industrial processes, which enhances productivity and improves the quality of production.
- Optimizes the cost of operation – When all the processes and machines in a factory are mechanized and controlled by automated systems, it reduces the need for human control and intervention and thus saves labour cost.
- Improves Product Quality – Since industrial automation reduces human control and intervention, there are fewer chances of human induced errors and defects resulting in better quality of products. Moreover, automation also ensures uniform product output and helps in maintaining quality consistency.
- Reduces Need for Routine Checks - Automation completely reduces the need for manual checking of various process parameters. By taking advantage of automation technologies, industrial processes automatically adjusts process variables to set or desired values using closed loop control techniques.
- Increases the level of safety - Tasks in hazardous environments, such as extreme temperatures, or atmospheres that are radioactive or toxic can be done by machines. This enhances the safety of human workers.
Types of Industrial Automation Systems
- Fixed or Hard Automation – This type of automation is used to increase productivity of machines in the assembly line and reduce operational costs. It used dedicated equipment to automate a particular process or production sequence and is part of the overall system deployment. And once it is deployed it is very hard to change the product design. Examples of hard automation include paint shops and conveyor belts.
- Programmable Automation – This type of automation includes equipment that is controlled by a program that can be used to modify the product or process. However, in this automation it is hard to reconfigure the program for a new product or production sequence. Examples of this include paper mills, steel rolling mills, industrial robots, etc
- Flexible or Soft Automation – This automation system provides the automatic control equipment that offers a great flexibility for making changes in the product design. These changes can be implemented through command codes given by operators. Multipurpose CNC machines are an example of this automation.
As industrial uses and applications have advanced over the years, the types of DAQ systems available in the market have also advanced - from portable battery operated to system built interconnected with various signals. In industrial use a DAQ system is used in a Substation Monitoring, Pipeline heat tracing circuit control, compressors and pumps or DG set monitoring, gas detection, vibration monitoring, pharma process validation, water and wastewater remote monitoring, fermentation processes, metal and mining applications and many more.
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