Automation of industrial processes

The rapid expansion of a huge international market requires the industrial sector to optimize production processes to achieve greater market share and increase competitiveness. To achieve this, engineering has promoted the development of areas such as mechanics, electronics and robotics to manage and consolidate the automation of industrial processes.

Automation is the implementation of intelligent systems and technologies to operate machinery and control production processes, independent of human operation in jobs that require greater effort and pose a great risk to the health and well-being of workers. Currently, there are three types of automation according to the degree of production and needs of a certain industry:

Fixed automation:

Designed for large-scale manufacturing: A specialized machine or equipment is used to produce a part of a product, or the product itself, in a fixed and continuous sequence. This type of automation is ideal for producing large volumes of products that have a long life cycle, invariable design, and broad consumer demand. Its main limitations are the high initial cost and the lack of flexibility of the team to adapt.

Programmable automation:

Suitable for smaller production volumes, segmented by batches, programmable automation allows the sequence of operation to be changed or reprogrammed, using software, to include product variations. Among the most used equipment for this type of automation are numerical control machines, robots and programmable logic controllers.

Flexible automation:

Designed for a medium production level, flexible automation is the extension of programmable automation. It reduces the programming time of the equipment and allows to alternate the production of two products (in series) by mixing different variables. Flexibility refers to the ability of teams to accept changes in product design and configuration, thus reducing costs for companies.

Advantages of industrial automation

  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Increase the efficiency of the production process.
  • Accelerate response to market demands.
  • It replaces man with complicated industrial processes that endanger his physical integrity
  • Promotes business competitiveness.
  • Improves process safety and production quality.

Disadvantages of industrial automation

  • Generates technological dependence
  • Requires a large initial investment
  • Lack of trained personnel to manage the equipment.
  • Susceptibility to technological obsolescence
  • Workers’ resistance to change

One of the main challenges of implementing automated systems in industries is balancing the work done by computer equipment and robots with the work done by operators. While technology helps optimize processes and limits human intervention, it does not completely replace it. The mistake is to associate industrial automation with unemployment since human presence is necessary for the management, supervision and control of complex production processes.

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