Industrial Automation - determining which solution you need

The adoption of automation into industrial settings is causing increased efficiency and productivity to accelerate. From assembly lines to factories, industrial automation is improving workflows, minimising delays, and creating safer environments for workers and robots to co-exist in.

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This guide aims to explain the automation solutions that are available within the industrial space so that you can determine the right solution for your unique requirements.

What is industrial automation?

Industrial automation involves utilising technology to replace or assist human tasks, specifically in manufacturing and other industrial processes.

Types of industrial automation

Below are some types of automation that can be applied to industrial processes.

Fixed Automation

Fixed automation systems may also be referred to as ‘hard automation’ systems. They perform repetitive tasks on an industrial scale, but have very limited flexibility.

Fixed systems produce consistent results, making them ideal for mass production of parts and products.

Use examples:

  • Robotic welding stations
  • Assembly lines
  • Conveyor belts

Programmable Automation

Programmable systems utilise PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) to provide flexible control of tasks being conducted. This flexibility allows the systems to adapt to production schedule changes and different variations of products.

Use examples:

  • Cutting paths on CNC machines
  • Robotic arms with interchangeable tools
  • Sorting systems

Robotic Automation

Using robots with industrial automation allows complex tasks to be performed at scale.

Use examples:

Machine Vision

Vision and inspection can be used for industrial purposes - using cameras and software to capture and analyse visual data for inspection, identification, and sorting purposes.

Use examples:

  • Detect defects
  • Verify product quality
  • Ensure precise component placement

There are several ways that data can be used to further improve and finetune industrial automation processes too, including:

  • SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) - this can provide collected data from monitoring and control of industrial processes over wide geographical areas.
  • IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) - connects industrial machines and devices to the internet. This allows you to exchange data and monitor processes to enable data-driven decisions to be made.

Why is industrial automation important?

Automating industrial processes is vital to succeeding in today’s competitive landscape. It enables efficiency, enhanced quality, and increased productivity across the board - allowing for increased throughput, faster time-to-market, and higher profit margins.

It can create a safer environment by reducing risks posed by static, unresponsive machinery, and amplify the potential of human workers by freeing them up to conduct activities which require more talent and skill.

Where Astech can help

When it comes to manufacturing automation, or automating any of your industrial processes, Astech can help. We provide custom and turnkey solutions, and can advise on how our systems could improve the workflows within your setting. Some of the diverse areas we specialise in include:

  • Component masking
  • In-process measurements
  • Medical device assembly
  • Robotic fastener insertion and inspection
  • Product development and testing

Explore our applications to learn more, or get in touch with the team.

Talk to us about LabExpert®

Each individual lab has specific needs, which is why we are not only able to advise on the best version of LabExpert® automation software for you, but we can also develop SiLA 2 device drivers for your application. If you are ready to automate your lab's workflow, get in touch with the Astech team.

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