Industrial automation allows industries to operate efficiently and profit as they grow rapidly. Leveraging the latest technologies is a helpful technique.
Businesses hoping to make the most of modern technologies look to automating their operations. Industrial automation makes it possible to operate as efficiently as possible and streamline operations.
A company moving towards industrial automation should prepare for Industry 4.0. Under the fourth industrial revolution, better communication exists between the production line, departments, and business processes.
The main motivations for adopting Industry 4.0 include improving productivity and enhancing the final product quality. In this guide, we take you through the main concepts of industrial automation and how it is fundamentally important.
What is industrial automation?
Industrial automation involves using machines in the manufacturing process with little to no human intervention. The practice makes it possible to utilize resources in a more optimized manner. Manufacturers can incorporate machines that run via various control systems such as robotics, HMIs, human-machine interfaces, or programmable logic controllers.
When you automate a process, you use programming and logic to give input into the machine on how to execute a particular function. Such machines are developed to deliver high control, effectively improving manufacturing performance.
Massive investments are being made in the industrial automation sector, and experts forecast the industry will reach $845.15 billion by 2030, explaining why more companies are interested in systems that automate their operations. Modern technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, and Blockchain will all play a pivotal role in making industrial automation a reality.
Types of industrial automation
Businesses can implement different types of automation for their processes. The type to choose depends on the manufacturing specifications, competitive pressure, and the nature of current pressure.
The following is a look at the various types of automation systems to guide you when buying industrial equipment:
1. Fixed automation
Also called hard automation, such systems are implemented to handle a particular task and not deviate from it. Fixed automation works best for continuous flow and mass production systems.
2. Programmable automation
A programmable automation CNC machine runs based on commands instructed through a computer program, allowing processes to be customized. Automation, in this case, works best in production lines where there are similar types of goods using the same tools.
3. Soft automation
Also called flexible automation, it works mainly in computer-controlled manufacturing systems that deliver flexible production. A human-operated computer sends instructions to the equipment, ensuring that tasks change as the code changes. This type of automation can be used in productions lines with low to medium volumes.
4. Integrated automation
Integrated automation is used in manufacturing plants where everything is run through computers and control processes, with little to no human involvement. Computers come up with the designs, test the designs, and fabricate parts as needed.
Robotics and industrial automation
There can never be industrial automation without the involvement of robotics. The use of industrial robots in manufacturing processes continues to evolve and gain importance.
As of 2020, there were more than 3 million industrial robots in active use. The usage was a rapid increase from 1997 when there were only 700,000 industrial robots. It is estimated that the adoption of industrial robots is growing at an average of 14% per year.
Robotics play an important role in different processes and applications such as painting, assembling, palletizing, packaging, material handling, and welding.
The purpose of industrial automation
1. Improved productivity
When factories automate their processes, they are able to achieve 24/7 continuous operations, thereby increasing levels of production. Such systems encounter minimal downtimes while at the same time speeding up processes.
2. Lower costs
Manufacturers often seek to automate their production line with the aim of keeping costs down. As opposed to having floor workers, robots do the work with few supervisors. Initially, it may seem like a company is investing a lot of money. However, operation costs reduce over time, saving money in the long term.
3. Better quality products
Industrial automation delivers improved product quality and maintains the same consistency across all outputs. Automated machines have a very minimal error rate of 0.00001%, unlike manual processes, whose error rate tends to be between 1 and 1.15%. Using adaptive control and monitoring further improves the quality as each process is checked to lower the error margin.
4. Improves on safety
Workplace safety is one of the most important things that a company cannot afford to compromise on. Industrial automation can enhance safety as humans as excluded from hazardous tasks which robots can conveniently handle. Furthermore, the machines can be fitted with thermal sensors and take immediate precaution measures under dangerous circumstances.
HGR is your go-to partner for industrial automation
Are you looking for ways you can automate your production line? We have a wide range of CNC machinery built to suit different manufacturing needs. Visit our website today to get yourself the right industrial equipment to begin automating your processes.