Impacts of Industrial Automation

Aug 29, 2011

Automation has been able to move production into a more efficient and stream-lined process. The quickly evolving technology will enable users a better experience on the production line.


For the last fifty to six­ty years, com­put­ers have helped move man­u­fac­tur­ing into a more pro­duc­tive, stream­lined process through automa­tion. Automa­tion, or indus­tri­al automa­tion, involves the use of com­put­ers to con­trol indus­tri­al machin­ery and their processes.

Top Advan­tages of Indus­tri­al Automation

Automation’s key advan­tage is increas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in facil­i­ties. Labor reduc­tion, repeata­bil­i­ty, waste reduc­tion, enhanced qual­i­ty con­trol, and inte­gra­tion with exist­ing busi­ness sys­tems give com­pa­nies an advan­tage by reduc­ing long-term costs, which increas­es prod­uct out­put and rev­enue. Dis­ad­van­tages include high ini­tial costs in pur­chas­ing tech­nol­o­gy and increas­es in main­te­nance costs.

For decades, automa­tion has been used in indus­try to pro­duce sim­ple objects. How­ev­er, the com­bi­na­tion of com­put­ers and exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy in the mid-20th cen­tu­ry allowed more com­plex tasks to be com­plet­ed in much faster times.

Pro­gram­ma­ble Log­ic Controllers

With the intro­duc­tion of PLCs (pro­gram­ma­ble log­ic con­trollers), indus­tri­al automa­tion effec­tive­ly mod­ern­ized how man­u­fac­tur­ing, as well as some food pro­duc­tion, was han­dled. PLCs addressed the con­cern that com­put­er-con­trolled machin­ery need­ed to have the right amount of pow­er, right price, and right size to be effec­tive. PLCs trans­mit the flow of infor­ma­tion and inputs from sen­sors and events to out­puts like actu­a­tors and events. The infor­ma­tion flow is con­trolled, ulti­mate­ly, by a human work­er through HMIs, or human-machine inter­faces. HMIs can mon­i­tor mea­sure­ments in tem­per­a­ture, pres­sure, etc.

Test Automa­tion

Automa­tion can also be used in the test­ing of soft­ware appli­ca­tions through a process called test automa­tion. In this process, com­put­ers are pro­grammed with spe­cial scripts, usu­al­ly com­put­er pro­grams, to run the same tests on soft­ware that a human would have to do man­u­al­ly. Test automa­tion pro­vides many of the same advan­tages as indus­tri­al automa­tion includ­ing labor reduc­tion, repeata­bil­i­ty, and waste reduction.

Reac­tions to Indus­tri­al Automation

While labor reduc­tion is con­sid­ered to be advan­ta­geous for a com­pa­ny, many work­ers felt threat­ened when automa­tion was first intro­duced. The fear that machines and com­put­ers would take the place of human labor drove their fear.

In fact, reduc­ing unskilled labor” can be ben­e­fi­cial to work­ers. Automa­tion presents oppor­tu­ni­ties for work­ers who pre­vi­ous­ly held unskilled” posi­tions to pur­sue more chal­leng­ing jobs that often pro­vide high­er wages. With those work­ers pur­su­ing oth­er jobs, the remain­ing unskilled” posi­tions become more valu­able to com­pa­nies, espe­cial­ly in indus­tri­al­ized nations, and result in these jobs hav­ing high­er wages.

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Robots​.com rep­re­sen­ta­tives online or at 8777626881.

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