You may have heard about what is automation & control or industrial automation. And probably wondering what it is and how it actually works? Today I will share what industrial automation & control is in a very basic and simplified way.
Example of the light:
Let’s say that you are entering a room and it’s dark. Now, what is the first thing that you should do when entering a dark room? Yes, you should turn the light on. That means you should manually press the switch on the wall and turn the light on. Now let’s say that instead of the wall switch, you’ll install a sensor in that room. This sensor has a simple open connection within it, just like a regular switch.
The way that this sensor works is that it always looks into the room. So when it detects someone entering the room, the open contact is going to be closed and following that, the light is going to switch on automatically. When the person leaves the room and there is nobody in there, the contact will be open again and this time the light will be turned off automatically.
So by having this sensor installed, you no longer need to press any switch on the wall when you enter or leave the room. With the new system, everything happens automatically on its own. That means once you enter the area, the sensing element kicks the light on automatically. And when you leave the room and there is no one else in there, the light automatically goes off.
Now if we consider turning on the light in the room a process, we can say that when I need to press the switch on the wall, the process is happening manually and when the light turns on and off on its own, when someone enters or leaves the room, the process happens automatically.
Difference between a manual & automatic:
Now, what is the difference between these two? Well, obviously the automatic way is more convenient, right? Because here you don’t need to press anything on the wall to turn on and off the light. The automatic way is also more energy-efficient. Because with this method when you leave the room and nobody else is in there, the sensor is going to turn off the light after a few seconds. With this method, you can expect to see some real energy savings here as well. So this is a very basic example of a manual vs. automatic process.
Now let’s bring a similar idea into a manufacturing factory, the manual vs. automatic concept. When we’re going to manufacture a product, there is eternally a start line and a finish line. The start line is where the raw materials enter into the factory and the finish line is where the final product is manufactured and ready to be shipped. Among the start and finish lines, there is a method that turns the raw materials into that final finished product.
The raw materials can be considered as the input for this process and the final product can be considered as the output or as the final outcome. Now just as the process of turning on and off a light, this process of manufacturing a product in a factory can happen either manually or automatically. For the manual method, we can hire a few workers to do the job however with the automated way, we can put a system in place that is able to take care of the complete manufacturing process or a minimum of some elements of it automatically.
A cupcake business example:
For instance, let’s say that you are going to start out a cupcake business and you desire to make your own cupcakes. To make the cupcakes, you’ll need a manufacturing process where all the essential ingredients come in as the input and a delicious cupcake comes out as the output. Now at the start of your business, when you’re on a tight budget and of course have fewer customers, you can hire one or more workers and train them to make the cupcakes based on your recipes.
With this limited manual making process in place, you may be able to make the cupcakes at a reasonable speed and with consistent quality. But as your business grows, trying to make more cupcakes manually with the high consistent quality will be very challenging. Why?
Because humans make mistakes. For instance, if one of your coworkers adds more of one ingredient, that batch of cupcakes won’t have the same quality as the rest of the cupcakes and if this occurs often, your business will start losing customers and eventually losing money. Now, what should you do to solve this problem? To resolve this problem you’ll require to hire an engineering firm to support you turn this manual cupcake manufacturing process into an automatic process.
Benefits of automatic machinery:
With the new automatic manufacturing process, you’re going to have fewer employees and more machinery. This means with the new system in place, your machines are going to take care of most of the jobs that were previously done by the workers and they are going to do it fast, hassle-free and accurate. So with the automatic process, you’re able to make more cupcakes with the same constant high quality and this helps your business grow faster.
The same principles apply to other industries like automotive, steel or oil and gas. For these industries to be able to manufacture the ultimate product based on the new standards, they need to have an up to date automatic manufacturing process. So industrial automation is all regarding large-scale processes, with a high degree of quality and consistent accuracy. When we need to manufacture a product on a large scale with consistent quality at the same time, we require to hire an engineering firm to design an automatic manufacturing process for our business or factory.
Automation & control makes human life much easier. It will save you time and money as well. In industrial field automation & control is actually important as it is a large industry to manufacture the products.