The Benefits of Industrial Automation
Industrial automation is the use of computer software and robotic devices to control factory production. Robots can now perform a variety of tasks that were previously only possible through human labor such as welding, painting, assembly, material handling, palletizing, product inspection and testing etc. The technology behind industrial automation is continuously evolving through the application of machine vision, AI and edge computing. It is enabling robots to perform more complex tasks, improve quality and reduce cycle times. In this way, it can improve manufacturing efficiency and help businesses increase their profits.
The initial cost of implementing an industrial automation solution can be high but it pays dividends in the long run. When compared to the cost of paying a human worker monthly, an automated system costs much less over time. Furthermore, there are fewer maintenance costs since industrial automation systems are less likely to break down.
In addition to reducing operating costs, industrial automation provides many other benefits such as avoiding downtime and improving productivity. The data generated by an automated system can be used to identify and rectify issues before they become problems that slow down the process. It can also predict peaks in demand, regulate inventory and monitor production speed to make adjustments to avoid bottlenecks.
Additionally, it can eliminate dangerous tasks posing a risk to humans. These can include hazardous materials, heavy lifting, working in unpleasant environments etc. The automation of such tasks can improve employee safety while ensuring the business stays compliant with government regulations and worker protocols.
Some parts of a production line can be fully automated while others can only be partially automated. This is because the former can be adapted to work with robots and other automation equipment while the latter requires more specialized machinery that may not be easily compatible. However, with the right approach, most aspects of a production line can be automated.
A typical automated production line combines material transfer on a conveyor system with a series of workstations, each designed to fulfill a specific purpose in the production process. The level of human involvement depends on the degree of automation but is usually limited to monitoring, supervision, programming and enhancement adjustment.
This type of manufacturing is often described as flexible automation because it offers the greatest degree of flexibility. The automation can be programmed to accommodate new processes, products or work flow. Additionally, if a part of the automation system fails, it can be replaced quickly and easily. This is in stark contrast to the traditional manufacturing process, which can take hours or days for new workers to become familiar with equipment and production workflows. In the case of a manufacturing plant, this can be extremely costly and affect overall production. This is why implementing automation early is crucial to future proofing the facility. It can also be a significant advantage in terms of retaining existing jobs rather than having to relocate them. This will help to keep staff morale high and ensure a competitive advantage for the company in the long run.