Automated manufacturing has long helped companies save money, reduce errors, and increase productivity, but industrial automation today has a new focus. With the technological advances that have given industrial robots their high-level computing capabilities and ever-increasing operational freedom, manufacturers can fine-tune their processes to include an emphasis on product quality and manufacturing flexibility.
What Is Industrial Automation?
By limiting the intervention required by human workers, industrial automation increases productivity, improves safety, and reduces the chance for error by using technology to enhance systems and machinery. There are four types of factory automation:
- Soft Automation: This is the reprogramming of your existing systems. The same machines are building a different part as a result of entering new code. It’s simple to go back and forth between programs as necessary to create slightly different components with minimal time required for programming.
- Hard Automation: Hard automation is a fixed process using specialized equipment, so it’s ideal for permanent processes within your system. It allows for lower production costs, but no flexibility.
- Programmed Automation: More flexible than hard automation but less flexible than soft, programmed automation is a time-consuming configuration using electronic controls. It’s best for large production runs, and it allows for easy changes in the order of operations.
- Integrated Automation: This pulls together a number of processes under one system that controls the schedule and order of operations.
Benefits of Industrial Automation
Factory automation benefits the company and individual employees in a number of ways:
- Lower Operating Costs: Robots offer efficiency and allow you to streamline your processes. They can also replicate parts exactly; that improved accuracy minimizes waste.
- Improved Safety: Automation can be used for some of the most dangerous jobs in the facility, taking workers away from hazardous situations. They can be moved to other positions that further increase productivity and make use of their unique skills.
- Reduced Lead Times: Industrial automation gives you more control over your entire process. You can keep more of the work in-house. By avoiding outsourcing and reliance on other companies, you reduce lead times.
- Faster ROI:Automation is personalized, so you can get the solutions that best serve your organization. You’ll recoup the investment quickly with lower operating costs, improved productivity, a safer work environment (and the associated improved morale and reduced turnover), and shorter lead times.
The Future for Industrial Automation
The fear of robots stealing jobs from humans has been a persistent concern, but it is an unfounded one. Automation actually creates more jobs, because robots will always have to be built, programmed, and maintained. These machines can do repetitive, dangerous, or highly precise work while people learn the advanced skills required to put these machines to work in the factory.
The robots will continue to become more sophisticated. Look forward to multi-functional machines that can be used for several purposes, along with unique human-like capabilities, such as decision-making skills and the ability to work without supervision.
This all leads to increased efficiency: improved use of energy, less raw material waste, and streamlined processes that make the best use of your human workforce.
As a market leader in the production of high-precision components for the aerospace, defense, and medical industries, Tecomet, Inc. recognizes that advanced industrial automation is our future. It’s how we’re able to offer the highly precise complex components these markets require, and it’s how we’ll pioneer new solutions that serve both our employees and our clients. Contact us to learn more about the future of industrial automation.