What is Automation?
Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. Human intervention is reduced by predetermining decision criteria, sub process relationships, and related actions — and embodying those predeterminations in machines.
Automation includes the use of various equipment and control systems such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers, and heat-treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering, and stabilization of ships, aircraft, and other applications and vehicles with reduced human intervention. Automation covers applications ranging from a household thermostat controlling a boiler to a large industrial control system with tens of thousands of input measurements and output control signals.
Improved worker safety:
Automated cells remove workers from dangerous tasks. Your employees will thank you for safeguarding them against the hazards of a factory environment.
Lower operating costs:
Robots can perform the work of three to five people, depending on the task. In addition to savings on the cost of labor, energy savings can also be significant due to lower heating requirements in automated operations. Robots streamline processes and increase part accuracy, which means minimal material waste for your operation.
Reduced factory lead times:
Automation can keep your process in-house, improve process control and significantly reduce lead times compared to outsourcing or going overseas.
Increased production output:
A robot has the ability to work at a constant speed, unattended, 24/7. That means you’ve got the potential to produce more. New products can be more quickly introduced into the production process and new product programming can be done offline with no disruption to existing processes.
Consistent and improved part production and quality:
Automated cells typically perform the manufacturing process with less variability than human workers. This results in greater control and consistency of product quality.
Consistent production by robots allows a shop to reliably predict timing and costs. That predictability permits a tighter margin on most any project.
Reduce need for outsourcing:
Automated cells have large amounts of potential capacity concentrated in one compact system. This allows shops to produce parts in-house that have previously been outsourced.
Productivity will work with you to provide a complete system – hardware, software and controls included. Your cell will be proven out at Productivity and shipped production-ready – allowing you to start making parts as soon as it’s installed in your shop.
Over the next three decades, statistics show that more than 76 million baby boomers will retire and only 46 million new workers will be available to replace them. During this time, your demand for labor will continue, making automation a real and viable solution.
Fixed automation refers to the use of special-purpose machines to perform a specific task only. These types of automatic machines are made to perform single or at the most two tasks. Fixed automation is capable of manufacturing a particular product style, so any changes in the product design or process means changing the automation system which in turn is quite difficult. These machines that are used to automate the task are custom-built according to the manufacturing process. As Fixed automation is employed for doing a particular process it becomes difficult for fixed automation to adapt to new changes in the process. Fixed automation is initially expensive, however, in the long run with high production rates, it becomes economical. Therefore, fixed automation is best suited for mass production.
Examples of fixed automation include automated assembly lines in automobile manufacturing industries, material handling conveyor systems, machining transfer lines, chemical manufacturing systems etc.
• Fixed automation has high production rates.
• Manufacturing cost per unit is lower.
• Uniform quality output.
• High Initial investment is required.
• Difficult to adapt to changes.
Programmable automation refers to the production equipment designed with the capability to change the sequence of operations to accommodate different product configurations. The operation sequence is controlled by a program, which is a set of instructions coded so that the system can read and interpret them. New programs can be introduced into the equipment to produce new products. Unlike Fixed production which is suitable for mass production, Programmable automation is suitable for batch production. In programmable automation, for each new style of product the machinery must be reprogrammed. As the systems are being reprogrammed there is a span of non productive time.
Examples of programmable automation include NC controlled machine tools, industrial robots, CNC machines Programmable logic controllers (PLC) etc.
• Programmable automation is best suited for batch production.
• There is flexibilty to accomodate product change.
Flexible automation is an extended part of programmable automation. A flexible automated system is one that is capable of producing a variety of products (or parts) with virtually no time lost when changes are made from one product to the next. There is no production time lost while reprogramming the system and altering the physical setup (tooling, fixtures, and machine setting). Consequently, the system can produce various combinations and schedules of products instead of requiring that they be made in separate batches.
Examples of flexible automation include robotic arms that can be reprogrammed to do a variety of tasks like drilling, welding, spray painting etc.
• No time is lost while changes are made.
• Easier to adapt to changes in product.
• It is faster than programmable automation as no time is past in making the changes.
Pump Automation control systems provide real-time control and protection of your centrifugal pumps while also providing valuable process insight. By protecting against unplanned pump failure due to process upsets, we can keep your process running longer and eliminate unplanned repair activities. By Right-Sizing your pumps to your system, we can reduce not only your energy consumption but the wear and tear on your process system.
Automation of pumps will give oil companies accurate data on sales and control over any adulteration. The petrol pump is one of the next scenes for automation in India. In a move to curb fuel adulteration and to face the competition from the private sector, the state-owned oil marketing companies are implementing an end-to-end automation of the fuel delivery network.
The automation covers various aspects of the outlets, including level gauges in underground tanks and gauges to check quality parameters of the fuel. Every time fuel is dispensed, a bill, giving details of the date, time, quantity of the purchase, the pump and the attendant who delivered the product, will be generated automatically. Automation of pumps will give oil companies accurate data on sales and control over any adulteration, which might happen at the retail end. These benefits will also flow to the customer.
These advanced pumps offer incredible alternatives for developing building automation systems. Given the advances in automation technology, there are many different interaction techniques used in developing these automated systems.
A home automation system combines hardware and software via a wireless network to control your home electronics and appliances through one device which could be a Smartphone, tablet, or a specific central automation control hub system. These devices can be controlled remotely even when you're not at home. Some of these work via apps, others with a voice assistant like Alexa, or Siri, and others through the main automation hub itself. There are many things that can be controlled by a home automation system and we look at a few of these below.
Home automation options are growing by the day, and just a few of the types of devices that can be operated via a home automation controller are:
Appliances: You can work your oven, vacuum cleaner, fan, fireplace, and air conditioning units—to name a few—via your phone.
Doors:See who is at the door, talk to them through an intercom, or open the door without getting up from the couch..
Garage: Open your garage door or gate before you've even turned the corner into your road.
Blinds:Operate the blinds remotely, even when you're not at home.
Watering systems: Make sure your lawn stays freshly watered no matter if you're home or away.
House alarm: See and record any activity in and around your house, all through your home automation system.
Lights:Switch your lights on or off, or dim them at a whim via your smart device.
Thermostat: Control the temperature of your home at all times via a smart thermostat.
Energy savers: Monitor the electricity used by each device throughout the house, locate and eliminate the energy drainers, and save money in the process.
Factory automation is the implementation of technology and systems to automate a manufacturing process with the ultimate goal of increasing productivity and reducing costs. The level of automation may be anything from single operation automations to end-to-end automation where there is no human involvement. Factory automation can be implemented at any point in the manufacturing process from material quantity control, to production and assembly and finally to packaging and dispatch.
Minimal Automation: There may be a little automation in this, but on the whole the process is manual. Examples are quality inspection, manual product assembly etc. This relies on training, expertise and human judgments for the process.
Single automated machines: Use of single machines that are designed to automate a single repetitive process like inspection, cutting packaging etc. The parts may be manually inserted and positioned into the equipment.
Automated Production lines: Automated production lines typically combine material transfer on a conveyor system with a series of dedicated workstations each designed to fulfill a particular propose in the productions cycle. The sequence is fully defined and the level of operator involvement depends on the amount of automation. In a fully automated line operators are needed only for supervision, monitoring, adjustment and maintenance of the equipment.
Fully automated (end-to-end): The ultimate solution is the end-to-end automated factory where there are no operators and the factories can run 24 hours per day 365 days per year. These factories may even include self-adjustment and quality measurement of products.
Improved Productivity: One of the main drivers of factory automation must be improved productivity. The advantages of potential 24/7/365 production and streamlined processes cannot be underestimated.
Improved quality: Repeated tasks that are continually monitored and adjusted and reduced human error.
Improved Consistency: Similar to the improved quality, the repeatability of an automated process makes the results more predictable and reduces any variations that are related to different operators and other human factors.
Reduced Waste: Improved planning with automated production and the improved repeatability leads to reduced waste.
Safer Working Conditions: Automating dangerous processes and built-in shut-down coupled with less operator involvement leads to a safer working environment and considerable risk reduction.
Cost Saving: This is the main driver and is a combination of all the above. Increased productivity, reduced down-time, reduced training costs and elimination of accidents leads to significantly improved profitability after the initial outlay of automating the system.