The role of automation in industry
The main goal of manufacturing processes is to produce finished products from raw materials through a systematic process where energy, manpower, equipment and infrastructure are utilized to their fullest potential so as to make a profit. Profit is maximized if the product produced has high quality which can be sold for a higher price in larger volumes with less production cost and time involved. AIM machinery significantly lowers production time. For example, when a cut machine and machine tools are used in a manufacturing process, setup is required for operational configurations and parameters every time that a new product is loaded. The length of setup time can to significant delay in production which can adversely affect the production process. Reduced production time and increased volume of production is achieved through the use of automated tool changes and automatic control of machines which is loaded into a computer.
Contributions of automation to overall production process
- Systems that include automated guided vehicles, industrial robots, automated crane and conveyors reduce material handling time
- Automation reduces cost of production through efficient usage of energy, manpower and resources
- High product quality that cannot be achieved through manual operations is provided through automated precisions machines. The same high quality can be expected with hardly any variations even if thousands of parts are required.
- AIM machineries and a cut machine significantly enable large-scale production. The cost of manufacturing multiple products simultaneously proves to be more efficient than when one product is manufactured at a time.
- An automated production system enables industries to exploit a much larger market to satisfy the demand of consumers for a given class of products.
Types of automation systems
Fixed automation – this process makes use of AIM machinery to perform fixed and repetitive operations for high volume production of similar parts. Dedicated equipment has a fixed set of operations and designed to be efficient
Programmable automation – is used for a changeable sequence of operations and configuration of machines through electronic control. This is typically used for batch processes where job variety is low and product volume is medium to high although it can also be used for mass production.
Flexible automation – is where human operators give high-level commands in the form of codes that are entered into a computer. Each of the production machines receives settings and instructions through the computer. This system is used in Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines.
Integrated automation – means the complete automation of a manufacturing plant with all processes functioning under computer control. This includes technology like computer-aided design, computer-aided process planning, CNC machine tools, automated retrieval and handling systems such as robots, cranes and conveyors and computerized scheduling and production control.