As the benefits of industrial automation continue to increase with the ongoing advancements of technology, it is difficult to imagine a modern and efficient industrial plant or manufacturing facility without such proponents. And if you are on the fence about incorporating industrial automation systems into your facility—whether because you are under the assumption that automation is still a thing of the future or perhaps you simply haven’t looked into the cost-effectiveness of such devices—then maybe now is the time to consider how it could improve your situation, regardless of the type of facility you are responsible for.
To be clear, industrial automation devices are not a thing of the future, and can be incorporated into the systems and devices you already have. Try not to think of such enhancements as additional steps in your process, or add-ons to machines you are currently using. Rather, think of industrial automated systems as benefits that can be integrated into the systems you currently have in use.
These tools are not a reinvention of how you run your day-to-day activities, but a method for keeping up to date so you can remain as efficient, productive, and competitive as possible. Consider the following to learn more about the world of industrial automation.
Types of Industrial Automation
A common misconception is that there is a single type of industrial automation. The reality is that industrial automation systems can be integrated into your current workflow in a variety of ways. Whether you are looking to automate your machine processes with intelligent building machines, or simply need to simplify the flow of your digital processes, there are industrial automation systems that can meet you where you stand.
When it comes to automation designed to execute repetitive tasks, fixed automation is what you are looking for. Though limited in its overall design, as it is the least flexible option, fixed industrial automation devices are intended to enhance the abilities of a machine’s single purpose.
Fixed industrial automation systems are excellent tools for aspects of production that remain consistent and stable over time. Whether being put to use in an assembly line, or perhaps as part of ongoing safety inspections, this type of automation is reliable and can keep your facility on track.
While it might be the case that a particular machine in your network—even one that plays a crucial role in the day-to-day operations—is reliable enough with scheduled maintenance. But when it comes to efficiency, and getting the most out of your equipment, it is worth looking at your strengths, and by incorporating fixed industrial automation devices into your workflow, you can enable additional capabilities of machines, and improve even that single production step.
Certainly you have machines in your facility that are dedicated to a single purpose, but you no doubt have portions of your facility that need adjustments from time to time and require changeovers so that a different task can be completed. Programmable automation allows you this ability, enabling you to get more use out of a single machine.
If you have a facility that manufactures different products, then this type of industrial automation system might be what you are looking for. Be in charge of setting the specifications and necessary processing tasks, and even adjusting the sequencing and volume that you are intending for your machinery and workline.
The third and final type of industrial automation system comes in the form of flexible automation, which gives you the power to update your processes in real time. This integration puts your entire network and machinery on the same line of communication, making adjustments simple and, more importantly, cost effective.
Commonly referred to as soft automation, this industrial automation system provides flexibility when it comes to product changeovers. And because of the system integration, these changeovers can occur quickly and even automatically. Forget the need to reconfigure the equipment between batches, and this type of industrial automation system will give you that control from a dedicated place, simplifying your overall process and keeping you in control of your production speed and accuracy.
Benefits of Industrial Automation
There is no question that the human eye and touch have large roles to play in production facilities, and so it is important not to think of industrial automation as replacements. Instead, think of these systems as additional tools at your disposal.
For example, industrial automation devices operate at a speed and consistency that are not prone to human error or fatigue. From safety inspections to inventory control, these systems eliminate tasks such as manual data entry, and they provide real-time data and insight into overall quality benchmarks. But control, efficiency, and quality are only some of the benefits that industrial automated networks provide. There is also a crucial component worth discussing, and that is the matter of safety that these tools put into play.
By implementing industrial automation systems into your facility and workflow, you can rest assured you are better equipped to improve the standards of safety across your processes, and be in a better position to mitigate risk. But this doesn’t only mean replacing human workers from hazardous tasks.
For instance, industrial automation systems machinery can let you know when certain mechanics require maintenance. And this information can be specific as well, as opposed to a general tune up. Which parts of your machines are functioning at their most efficient, and which aspects of the machines are in need of repair, either right now or down the road. Knowing this information in real time can make sure your equipment is performing at its best, reducing the room for error or malfunction.
Contact the Experts
Whether you are looking to reduce downtime in your operations, or perhaps you are intending to increase efficiency and safety, industrial automation certainly has a home in your production processes. Be in better control of your production line, and find out how else industrial automation systems can improve your business. Contact us today.