At Re:Build DAPR Engineering, we excel at creating custom automation solutions for diverse industries. We work closely with clients to learn about their specific process requirements and the needs of their organization to design, create, assemble, test, and implement automation systems that streamline operations and enhance quality and efficiency while reducing costs. Read on to learn more about industrial automation, why it’s so beneficial, the various automation and tool options available, and how our team can help.

What Is Industrial Automation?

Industrial automation combines technological advancements like robotics, computers, and related control systems with industrial processes and equipment, enabling systems to perform tasks autonomously with minimal human-machine interaction. From a single work cell running semi-automated processes to a production line or robotic system that’s 100% automated, industrial automation solutions can carry out anything from simple or repetitive tasks to fully flexible manufacturing operations that allow for varied products and complex processes. Industrial automation focuses on delivering exceptional product quality, precision, and consistency as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Benefits of Industrial Automation and Why It’s Important

Automation technology is essential to the future of efficient manufacturing processes. Industrial automations lend a host of universal advantages to varied markets and applications. Operations that incorporate automation benefit from the following:

  • Better quality and consistency in end products. Industrial automation systems possess enhanced capabilities for quality control, incorporating monitoring technology like sensors to oversee production quality throughout the manufacturing process. Also, minimizing human involvement decreases the risk of human error for improved product quality, accuracy, and consistency. All of this equates to happier customers with a positive opinion of your company or brand.
  • Higher production speeds and throughput. Automation streamlines operations for optimal efficiency. These processes are faster than their manual counterparts without sacrificing quality. Equipment can run 24 hours a day, without requiring breaks, sick days, or vacations like human workers. With increased production speeds comes not just reduced lead times, but also enhanced throughput for higher profits.
  • Decreased costs for production and labor. Utilizing automated equipment is a cost-efficient option for many businesses. Its capacity for precision enables efficient material usage that helps eliminate waste and lower material costs. Also, by boosting productivity, manufacturers can achieve better per-part costs. Such self-sufficient machinery requires less operator oversight, and this has the side benefit of freeing up your human workforce to focus on other tasks that support your core business.
  • Improved safety in the workplace for enhanced employee satisfaction. Automated systems can operate in hazardous environments and extreme temperatures. They can take over repetitive or harmful tasks that would be strenuous or dangerous for human workers to complete, thus increasing employee satisfaction in their jobs.
  • Flexible manufacturing with process versatility. Automation equipment is highly varied, allowing you to choose from an array of options that will fulfill your application, performance, and production volume needs. Also, by reprogramming automated devices, this increases their capabilities for versatile functionality.

Types of Industrial Automation

Multiple types of automation are available for industrial systems and equipment.

Fixed Automation

Also referred to as hard automation, fixed automation carries out a single set of designated tasks over and over. A conveyor belt is a good example of this automation type as it facilitates a continuous flow application, performing a single function of continually transporting items. Such systems are also the right choice for high-volume discrete manufacturing. While fixed automation is often the most efficient type of automation, it is the least flexible.

Programmable Automation

With programmable automation, computer programs supply coded instructions programmed by an operator for a system to follow. This programming results in the automated equipment completing a defined set of tasks. It’s an adaptable automation type as you can reprogram it to generate similar but varied products, but the process and tooling should remain the same.

Flexible Automation

Also called soft automation, flexible automation reduces the amount of time you need to spend on changeovers as they’re automated for enhanced efficiency. It’s also beneficial for its versatility, having the ability to manufacture a wide range of products with a high degree of flexibility. This automation type allows for batching without having to reconfigure machinery in between, with every component receiving a unique set of commands through a worker-operated computer.

Integrated Automation

Integrated automation is a comprehensive automation approach in which a fully automated system incorporates several different types of automation. Minimal human-machine interaction is involved, with integrated automation equipment instead taking its direction from pre-programmed computers. Such equipment is capable of developing component designs, manufacturing them, and even completing design or product testing. It’s another option for batch manufacturing, as well as continuous process manufacturing.

Industrial Automation Tools

Some of the tools that facilitate industrial automation include the following:

  • Programmable logic controller (PLC). A PLC is a specialized, programmable computer capable of managing and controlling equipment for carrying out industrial processes.
  • Distributed control system (DCS). Utilizing controllers distributed throughout a system, a DCS is a comprehensive control solution for high-volume industrial production and large businesses. It oversees and effectively controls even complex operations.
  • Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. A SCADA system optimizes system performance by monitoring industrial production procedures and gathering operating data.
  • Robot. A robot is a programmable piece of automated machinery with the ability to execute complex movements using multiple axes, allowing for the manipulation and movement of items within space. Many form factors and sizes are available to address different payloads, space constraints, and environmental conditions.
  • Actuator. An actuator is an industrial device that moves within a fixed linear or rotary path. It can be attached to items to provide controlled movement. Pneumatic and electric actuators offer different methods of movement that can suit specific needs in an automation project. Multiple actuators can be coupled together to achieve multi-axis movement.
  • Sensor. With options for monitoring temperature, pressure, and more, a sensor can detect fluctuations in environmental conditions within an operation or piece of equipment.

Empower Your Business With Re:Build DAPR Engineering’s Automation Expertise

Industrial automation plays a crucial role in modern manufacturing practices. It provides a broad range of distinct advantages for a variety of industries, delivering cost-effective, high-quality results while reducing turnaround times, material waste, and labor needs.

At Re:Build DAPR Engineering, we believe that every automation challenge — no matter how simple or complex — should have its own unique and individualized solution. Rather than reusing designs from previous applications, we’re committed to offering our clients innovative, automated systems that fully address their specific needs. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you integrate industrial automation into your operation with exemplary results.