Types of Automation Systems

Instrumentation blog

What is automation?

Industrial automation is mainly concerned with the automation of manufacturing processes, quality control and material handling. General purpose controllers for industrial processes include programmable logic controllers and computers. One trend is a greater use of artificial vision to provide automatic inspection and robot guidance, another is a continuous increase in the use of robots.

Automation systems can be categorized based on the flexibility and level of integration in manufacturing process operations. Various automation systems can be classified as follows:

Fixed Automation:

It is used in high volume production with dedicated equipment, which has a fixed set of operation and is designed to be efficient for this set. The systems of continuous flow and discrete mass production use this automation. eg Distillation process, conveyors, paint shops, transfer lines, etc.          

A process that uses mechanized machinery to perform fixed and repetitive operations in order to produce a high volume of similar pieces.

Programmable Automation:

It is used for a variable sequence of operation and configuration of the machines through electronic controls. However, a non-trivial programming effort may be necessary to reprogram the machine or the sequence of operations. The investment in programmable equipment is lower, since the production process is not changed frequently. It is normally used in the batch process, where the variety of jobs is low and the volume of the product is medium to high, and sometimes also in mass production. eg in steel mills, paper mills, etc.

Flexible Automation:

It is used in flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), which is always controlled by computer. Human operators give high-level commands in the form of codes entered into the computer that identify the product and its location in the sequence and the lower-level changes are made automatically.

Each production machine receives adjustments / instructions from the computer. They automatically upload / download the required tools and carry out their processing instructions. After processing, the products are automatically transferred to the next machine.

It is normally used in workshops and batch processes where product varieties are high and work volumes are medium or low. These systems usually use multi-purpose CNC machines, automated guided vehicles (AGV), etc.

Integrated Automation:

It denotes the complete automation of a manufacturing plant, with all processes operating under computer control and under coordination through the digital processing of information. It includes technologies such as computer-aided design and manufacturing, computer-aided process planning, computerized numerical control machine tools, flexible machining systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, automated material handling systems such as robots and cranes and conveyors. automated, computer programming and production control.

You can also integrate a business system through a common database. In other words, it symbolizes the total integration of process and management operations using information and communication technologies. Typical examples of such technologies are seen in the advanced systems of process automation and computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM)

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