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The That, How, Why and Who of Industrial Automation

Question: What is industrial automation? Find out with NJCSI.

If you’re a factory owner or manager, you have probably heard, at some point or another, that you need to automate your production line. While some may fully understand the meaning and implications of this statement, just as many, if not more, will probably be wondering, “What exactly is industrial automation – and how will it affect my business?” Wonder no more because here is the short and definitive answer!

The Sci-Fi Future Is Already Here

Industrial automation is a set of rapidly developing technologies, incorporating IT-based control systems, robotics and other bits of hardware and software to facilitate the automatic operation of a wide variety of industrial processes. Automation precludes the need for most human labour, reduces production time, achieves higher output and cuts costs. This is not to say that there is no need for human effort – far from it. It’s just that machines are better at doing repetitive tasks on a long-term basis than humans are – they don’t get bored or fatigued. Leaving these crucial but menial tasks to machines leaves more time for us to get on with more interesting things.

So Much for “What”, Here’s The “How”

Industrial automation incorporates a range of systems and devices that need to be integrated with a factory’s existing processes and outputs. Central to all of them are the control systems, of which we use three: PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers), SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and DCS (Distributed Control Systems). PLCs were introduced in the automotive industry. These are the systems that drive all those robotic arms you see in car assembly plants. SCADA is a higher level system used for supervision and often incorporates a number of PLCs. DCS is used on large-scale, continuous, ongoing, batch-oriented production lines, offering tight and secure standardisation and sustainable workflows. Together with these, all kinds of hardware, from computers, and network switchers to robotic components, are incorporated to get and keep the system running.

What About The Why?

Adding automation to your production line will not only increase your output, it will increase the level and uniformity of quality across your products. It is also extremely flexible: instead of having to train staff, all you need to do is upgrade the programming and you’ve added a new task, which your system can start carrying out instantly and optimally. Good production is also a function of the amount of good and useful data you have about your process flow. Automated systems are far more efficient at collecting , calculating and applying data than humans are. It’s also safer because the more hazardous tasks can be assigned to robots, leaving your staff out of harm’s way.

And The Who?…

That’s where we come in. Contact us to find out how we can incorporate automatisation into your process flow. We guarantee that you will never look back.