Manufacturing has long been dominated by technology. From the bulky human-controlled machines to the more advanced computer-operated systems, technology has brought several countless breakthroughs in the production industry. And one of the latest and certainly the most futuristic is industrial automation.
What Is Industrial Automation?
Industrial automation, also called robotics or process control, is using computer-controlled devices in manufacturing various products for the market. Data is programmed in the computer and the automated machines take care of all the necessary procedures for production. Compared to mechanization, automation uses highly-innovative tools and is therefore a lot more advantageous. Because of diminished production costs and increased output quality through manufacturing automation, it has become a useful tool both for the industry and the economy. This technology is widely used today as most industrial companies convert their machines to automated ones.
There are actually several fields that benefit from automation, and the manufacturing industry is just one of them. Healthcare, communications, and even education are just some areas that are already automated for everyone’s benefit.
Software, interfaces and database systems are important in controlling the whole automation process. They serve as the main tools for configuring data and creating designs which will be used by the computer in its manufacturing task.
Necessary Preparations for Automation
- Internet Connection - The Internet, as usual, is important in upgrading the automation system of most industrial machines. Manufacturing tasks can also be completed using web browsers.
- Controlling Systems - Data algorithms are the core of process control. They manipulate computers in performing various operational tasks and measurements.
- Adequate Training for Human Controllers - Human participation may be a lot less in manufacturing automation. However, skilled and efficient workers are still required to precisely control and manage the machines. These controllers should undergo intensive training to ensure that they really understand the complexities of industrial machineries.
- Alarm Systems - Alarm systems are necessary for detecting small to large-scale problems in production. These problems might involve defects on the machineries and computers. Alarming system should be comprehensive enough for personnel to respond immediately to the problem. Alarms can be in the form of emails or sirens.
Benefits from Automated Production
- Improved Output Quality and Productivity - Industrial automation provides top of the line finished products, which can be manufactured repeatedly and efficiently. This is surely one of the best advantages from automation; -robotic machines can manufacture quality outputs in such a short time. Also, since this technique requires little or no human intervention, it totally eliminates defects caused by human errors and negligence.
- Difficult and Dangerous Tasks can be Easily Performed - Safety can also be guaranteed with automated machines. Since the devices perform all the necessary manufacturing tasks, human injuries and accidents can be significantly prevented. Also, those difficult procedures that usually take some time to be accomplished can be done easily and quickly with automation.
- Market Advantage - Economic status is probably the major reason behind the massive automation of most industrial plants all over the world. Since automation can provide better products in a lesser amount of time, companies could incur greater revenues in the end.
Disadvantages Of Industrial Automation & Control
Even if automation presents a wide array of benefits for the production industry, it also has its own share of possible dangers. For one, employment can be drastically affected. While this may be beneficial on the part of the company, this may pose big threats to the economy and to the workers. This issue is still on a debating process as people believe that automation has led to higher unemployment rate while the business sector argues for the opposite. In addition, set-up costs for automation are usually high and revenues couldn’t return them immediately.