Types of Industrial Automation Systems
Industrial automation is the use of robots, computers, and information technologies for handling various industrial processes and machinery while reducing human involvement. By eliminating the need for manual processes and human decision-making, industrial automation results in improved productivity, enhanced quality and safety, flexibility, high information accuracy, and lower operating costs. These benefits have made industrial automation grow in popularity across various industries.
Types of Industrial Automation
Industries utilize several different types of industrial automation, which can be broken down into four main categories:
- Fixed (Hard) Automation
- Programmable Automation
- Flexible (Soft) Automation
- Totally Integrated Automation (TIA)
Fixed automation systems follow a fixed series of programmed commands to perform processing or assembly operations. Since this type of automation is set up with one process or purpose in mind, it is very difficult to make any changes. Fixed automation systems are popular options for material handling, machining transfer lines, and mechanized assembly.
Fixed automation is beneficial because it offers low unit costs and high production rates. However, this inflexible automation option has higher upfront costs and an increased risk for failure and obsolescence.
Programmable automation systems are much more flexible. With the capability to change the sequence of operations, programmable automation can accommodate different product configurations and regular changes during the manufacturing process. This type of industrial automation is most often used for manufacturing products in batches, and new programs can be implemented into the hardware to create new products at any time. Common applications for programmable automation include programmable logic controls, industrial robots, and CNC machine tools.
While programmable automation offers great advantages, it does require a high investment and has a lower production rate compared to fixed automation.
Flexible automation systems feature several machine tools linked together by a material-handling system. A central computer controls all of the components, and changes can be quickly and easily implemented at any time. This type of industrial automation offers flexibility and an effective way of producing various parts without losing time for configuration changes.
A primary example of flexible automation is robotic arms that can be programmed to perform various tasks, such as spray painting parts, inserting rivets, drilling holes, and inserting screws. While flexible automation offers continuous production and medium production rates, it requires a high investment and is more expensive than alternative automation solutions.
TIA systems are an industrial automation solution based on a philosophy of using common software, communication methods, and data management systems. This type of industrial automation facilitates shorter time-to-market, reduces complexity, enhances productivity, and provides higher security of investment. Because of this, TIA systems are used throughout industries such as automotive, food & beverage, packaging, plastics processing, and more.
Optimation’s Industrial Automation Capabilities
At Optimation, we offer an extensive range of industrial automation capabilities to develop custom automation systems that suit your production needs. We can implement solutions using a wide range of distributed control systems (DCS), including Foxboro, Delta V, Siemens PCS7, ABB, and Legacy systems. We also have extensive PLC/PAC experience with Allen-Bradley applications as well as Siemens, Modicon, GE, and Mitsubishi hardware and software programming environments.
Our primary capabilities include:
- Batch Programming
- SCADA and HMI
- Instrumentation and Controls Engineering
Partner With Optimation for Enhanced Industrial Automation Solutions
Don’t fall behind in industrial markets that are increasingly dominated by automated systems. Partner with Optimation to create an automated production or processing system that suits your facility’s needs while streamlining production, improving accuracy, and reducing the need for direct human intervention. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities and how to get started.