What is Industrial Automation?
For ages, man has found creative new ways of creating all sorts of things. Whether it was a Byzantine-era basket, or a flintlock gun, we have always found new ways to make just about anything. This creation process all changed though with the coming of the Industrial Revolution and two subsequent innovations.
The assembly line was game-changer number one. Even though it had been used to some degree in the past, the early 1900s saw new, modern companies such as Ford and the Bridgewater Foundry expanding greatly on the old assembly line concept. Now it would be further developed into a factory setting, mass producing a product with record speed and efficiency.Read how automated technology amps up the recycling process.
As time went on, electrification was made available to all manufacturing facilities. This, along with expanding techniques and invention assured the world of the impending mass production age. Eventually, computers and their subsequent counterparts – robots were introduced to manufacturing, and this is what changed everything for a second time.
Industrial automation is game-changer number two. When machines and computerized robots take over the assembly process from humans, what you have is assembly by automation. The way that these machines operate is similar to people in an assembly line. Sensors, grabbers, mobility, and other familiar attributes come together in a synchronized, repeating, fully mechanized line of automation.
A very current example of industrial automation can be found in many automobile manufacturing plants. Thousands of machines are set to work in orchestra to make one product: a car. One frame piece is taken by a robot and welded to another piece. The robot then hands this piece to another robotic entity that begins to bend and drill holes in the piece. This is then handed off to another robot for further attachments, and so on.
Other examples can be found all around us. What can you find that is handmade these days? Not much – the machines and mass production have taken over much of the world’s production work. Regardless of initial costs and maintenance, machines typically cost much less in the end than human workers, their benefits, and other costs. Machines can also work 24-hours a day and work with extreme precision much more quickly and efficiently than humans.
Like it or not, this is the beginning of things to come. As long as machines are more efficient in a task, they will continue to gain traction in filling the jobs. This is industrial automation today.