Industrial automation is the science by which a manufacturing process is carried out with little or no human help. There are two forms of industrial automation, namely control and automation. Control means the determination of the ways by which machines work to achieve desired results; while automation is concerned with the control of an entire system. In other words, industrial automation is involved in the productive as well as the non-productive work places.
Automating various production processes is one of the most important tasks of any industry. In present times, with the increase in production, industrial automation is being used for speeding up the production process. Many factories, for example, have adopted automatic processing lines to reduce wastage of precious resources like energy and other chemicals. In addition, computers have been widely used to automate certain manufacturing processes.
In any industrial automation, there are two types of tools or equipment involved-manually operated machines or semi-automated machinery and humans. The former consists of tools that are used to operate on the premises, whereas, the latter, the equipment used only to operate within a definite system or environment. So far as the equipment used within the industrial automation system is concerned, they vary according to the nature of the production processes. Some of the production lines are fully automated, whereas others are partially automated. Within the fully automated lines, the tasks include stationery requirements such as paper clips, bags, boxes etc.
In addition, industrial automation also involves tasks such as packaging and labeling of goods, assembly of finished products, pick and pack, and many other tasks. Among these tasks, the ones that are very much related to product assembly are the ones that are carried out using semi-automated systems. Semi-automated systems, as the name suggests, involve fewer tasks than the fully automated systems, thereby improving efficiency. However, it is important to remember that in most cases, the amount of manual labor required in terms of completing tasks is less than the amount of energy consumed during the process of assembling the product.
Industrial control systems can either be used to regulate process variables like temperature or to provide solutions for controlling process variables. For example, the temperature controller helps in regulating the temperature of a certain area. In addition to this, it also controls the rate at which the temperature changes, thereby preventing excessive heat or cold from entering a certain area.
On the other hand, the other type of industrial automation is the human operator controlled system. It refers to the systems that help the human operators in carrying out some specific tasks. For example, in the manufacturing units, the robots are used to perform certain manufacturing tasks such as placing and sizing the parts, packaging and labelling of the product. On the other hand, in the distribution units, the trucks are driven by the human operators to transport the finished products to the customer. Again, the trucks will be guided by the human operator to route them in the proper direction so as to ensure delivery of goods in a safe manner.
The industrial automation includes a combination of both the above two types. However, the above two categories are usually combined to provide solutions for more complex tasks such as placing and sizing of parts or for manufacturing specific items. For example, the production manager may require two operators to place the order in the production floor. These robots will also be able to help the production manager in the decision making process on what unit should be assigned for a particular task. This means that in addition to the robots, there will also be human operators who will take charge of the tasks.
In order to have an efficient and a fully functional automated system for various industrial operations, a great amount of investment is required. Thus, it is necessary for you to first do extensive research on the various industrial automation systems available. This will give you an idea of the type of machinery that you need and the amount of money you need to spend for its purchase.