Automation control – Types, components, and benefits

Automation control – Types, components, and benefits

Industrial automation can involve a range of technologies and processes, including machine vision, robotics, sensors, and computer control systems. These are often integrated to create a complete automation system that can be tailored to the specific needs of a particular industrial process or application. Overall, industrial automation has become an essential part of the modern manufacturing sector, helping companies to improve their productivity, quality, and profit while also reducing production costs and improving worker safety.

Industrial automation basics
You might be wondering what industrial automation is. It is a system upgrade that allows your equipment to perform tasks on its own and is more than just robotics. By making your facility smarter, your business will gain better control, lower running costs, higher quality, greater efficiency, and quicker turnaround times. For instance, if your establishment manufactures food, you might want to automate packing your goods so that no human labor is required. Industrial automation also makes industrial systems more efficient by incorporating computers and intelligent instruments into various processes. For example, computers can control production processes with little to no human involvement after initial programming, thanks to smart technologies and automation control devices.

Types of automation

Direct automation
In direct automation, one motor can open or shut a succession of valves using an electric signal produced by its armature, which does not require an intermediary device to transmit its instructions. The other forms of automation require the passing of commands from one instrument to another.

An industrial digital computer, distributed control system (DCS), or embedded controller called a programmable logic controller (PLC) is used to automate electromechanical operations. PLCs are programmed for specific tasks using a user interface, a human-machine interface, or one of several interfacing protocols, including Foundation Fieldbus H1/HSE, Profibus, and Ethernet. They can be used in many various types of industries. PLCs are one of the advanced types of automation designed to communicate logical programming instructions to the manufacturing equipment or production line.

A “closed-loop” automation system is a process management system (PCS). The code of this continuously watches the output from its sensors and, as necessary, sends signals to its actuators, ensuring that any change in its inputs will also reflect in return. The intended set point is kept in place for the process. Since PCSs are frequently found online, they monitor their respective processes and modify the control variables as necessary.

Human-machine interface
Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) are the frequently used PLC (programmable logic controller) devices in industrial implementations. Although many HMI devices no longer gather or process data through an acquisition subsystem, they are occasionally called “supervisory control and data acquisition systems.”

Components of machine automation system
The main components of a machine automation system are those that regulate electricity and control. These could fit inside one panel for a smaller machine, but multiple panels, typically one for control and one for power, may be needed for bigger ones. A machine automation system’s primary components and sections are as follows:

  • power distribution
  • motor control and drives
  • safety system
  • programmable controllers
  • discrete and analog I/O
  • communication systems
  • human-machine interface (HMI)

The power delivery subsystem delivers electrical energy to components like motors, drives, and controllers. The automation control components comprise safety systems, programmable controllers, discrete and analog I/O, networking systems, and HMIs.

Benefits of industrial automation

Increased efficiency
Automation can significantly improve the efficiency of industrial processes by reducing the time required for tasks and minimizing errors. For example, machines can perform work faster and more accurately than humans, leading to increased production rates and faster turnaround times.

Improved quality control
Automation can also improve the quality of products by ensuring consistency and accuracy in production processes. For example, automated systems can perform quality checks at every manufacturing stage, identifying and addressing defects before they become a problem.

Cost reduction
Automation can reduce labor costs by replacing human workers with machines, leading to lower operating costs and increased profitability. Additionally, it can help to reduce material waste and energy usage, further reducing expenses.

Increased safety
Automation can also help to improve worker safety by reducing the need for workers to perform dangerous tasks. For example, machines can be used to handle hazardous materials and perform works that may be unsafe for humans, lowering the risk of workplace injuries.

Automation can help companies to scale up their manufacturing processes as demand increases. For example, automated systems can be easily programmed and adjusted to meet changing production requirements, allowing companies to respond quickly to market changes and opportunities.

Future of industrial automation
To meet customer expectations of high-caliber performance and keep up with demand, it’s critical to invest in smart tools immediately. Through cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things (IoT), industrial automation rapidly evolves into Industry 4.0, the complete automation of production facilities.

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