Industrial automation is the use of technology to control equipment and machinery used in production processes. This type of manufacturing is used in a variety of industries, including food and beverage, electronics, automotive, and aerospace. As the demand for automation increases, more manufacturers are integrating these technologies into their processes. The technology can help them save money on labor, increase productivity, and improve product quality.
While modern-day industrial automation emerged only in the twentieth century, there has been a long-standing urge to increase manufacturing efficiencies for centuries. The first step towards that goal was the development of specialized machines and tools for specific tasks, reducing the need for people to perform those tasks manually. The latest innovations in technology — such as machine learning, edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) — have given a new boost to this effort.
Robots are one of the main tools for industrial automation. Annual installations of robots have more than tripled since 2010, and they are currently being implemented by manufacturing companies in all parts of the world. These systems can do jobs that are either too dull or dangerous for humans to perform, freeing up human operators to take on more complex and interesting work. They also provide increased safety by eliminating the need for workers to be exposed to harsh environments such as extreme temperatures, intoxicating elements or radioactive materials.
Another benefit of industrial automation is that it allows factories to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This enables companies to keep up with customer demands and meet deadlines. In addition, automation reduces human error, which can lead to poor-quality products.
Automated processes also offer greater flexibility than human operations, allowing a manufacturer to change the production process on the fly without having to train a worker for the new task. This can be done through a simple change to a computer program. Industrial automation can also improve data collection, ensuring that key information is being recorded in real-time and is available to everyone involved in the process.
Another significant advantage of industrial automation is that it can significantly reduce production costs, increasing profits for the company. This is particularly true when the devices communicate across a single platform, providing data that can find root causes of problems, regulate inventory and monitor production speeds so that bottlenecks can be resolved before they impact productivity. These systems can also verify and validate that the final product meets a company’s quality standards. These benefits translate into better business outcomes for a company, enhancing its value to customers and shareholders.