Types of Automation

Nov 2, 2011

Automation succeeds at improving overall productivity, creating easier ways to conduct processes, while also decreasing health risks for human workers. Industrial robots enable decreased cycle times, increased product quality, and a better safety environment.


Automa­tion is a method using a wide range of com­put­er- and machine-aid­ed tasks to help improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and cre­ate eas­i­er ways to do busi­ness. Dif­fer­ent types of automa­tion are com­mon­ly used in dif­fer­ent types of indus­tries. For exam­ple, auto­mat­ed meters and pumps assist con­sumers dai­ly when they pump their gas. In indus­tri­al set­tings, dif­fer­ent types of automa­tion pro­vide ben­e­fits to com­pa­nies includ­ing decreased part-cycle times, high­er qual­i­ty prod­ucts, and increased work­er safety.

Indus­tri­al Automation

Using tech­nol­o­gy to per­form tasks that can be repet­i­tive, dan­ger­ous, or oth­er­wise unsuit­able for humans is known as indus­tri­al automa­tion. Numer­i­cal­ly con­trolled (NC) equip­ment, indus­tri­al auto­mat­ed robots, flex­i­ble man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tems (FMS), and com­put­er-aid­ed man­u­fac­tur­ing (CAM) are all types of automa­tion that indus­tries imple­ment into their factories.

Numer­i­cal­ly Con­trolled Machines

Numer­i­cal­ly con­trolled (NC) machines uti­lize com­put­ers to store, cal­cu­late, and exe­cute oper­a­tions that are usu­al­ly per­formed by hand. A com­mon exam­ple of an NC machine is the com­put­er­ized numer­i­cal con­trolled (CNC) mill. Instead of posi­tion­ing each cut by hand and metic­u­lous­ly mov­ing the crank to cut each part, a CNC mill uses com­put­ers to ana­lyze, cut, and mill each piece with pre­ci­sion. CNC mills and oth­er NC machin­ery pro­duce parts with few­er errors and high­er accuracy.

Indus­tri­al Robots

Automat­ing indus­tri­al appli­ca­tions with an auto­mat­ed robot­ics sys­tems pro­vides many of the same ben­e­fits as NC equip­ment – high­er qual­i­ty parts, reduced cycle times, and increased sav­ings to name a few. Indus­tri­al robots, like oth­er automa­tion types, can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep up with indus­try demands. Envi­ron­ments that prove to be dan­ger­ous for human work­ers are suit­able for indus­tri­al robots. Despite a high ini­tial cost, the return on invest­ment (ROI) for an indus­tri­al auto­mat­ed robot is typ­i­cal­ly about six months due to the increased sav­ings and pro­duc­tion that robots pro­vide. These machines can per­form many indus­tri­al auto­mat­ed robot­ic appli­ca­tions includ­ing weld­ing, mate­r­i­al han­dling, assem­bly, pal­letiz­ing, and painting.

Flex­i­ble Man­u­fac­tur­ing Systems

A flex­i­ble man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tem (FMS) com­bines NC machines, indus­tri­al robots, and oth­er types of indus­tri­al automa­tion into one automa­tion sys­tem. A FMS would typ­i­cal­ly pro­duce sim­i­lar prod­ucts and parts but still main­tain the flex­i­bil­i­ty to change parts or processes. 

Com­put­er-Aid­ed Manufacturing

Com­put­er-aid­ed man­u­fac­tur­ing (CAM) gen­er­al­izes indus­tri­al automa­tion one step fur­ther. CAM involves using com­put­ers in the pro­duc­tion, plan­ning, and con­trol of FMS and, more gen­er­al­ly, the entire man­u­fac­tur­ing process. A com­mon exam­ple of CAM is com­put­er-aid­ed design (CAD) or com­put­er-aid­ed design and draft­ing (CADD). CAD and CADD make use of com­put­er pro­grams to dig­i­tal­ly plan prod­ucts, parts, lay­outs, indus­tri­al robots, and a vari­ety of oth­er aspects of indus­tri­al set­tings. CAM also includes auto­mat­ed sched­ul­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing flow analysis.

With­out var­i­ous types of indus­tri­al automa­tion, every aspect of man­u­fac­tur­ing would have to be done man­u­al­ly. Cycle times would be much slow­er than they are today due to the reduced orga­ni­za­tion, con­sis­ten­cy, and effi­cien­cy that var­i­ous types of automa­tion offer.

If you have more ques­tions or are inter­est­ed in inte­grat­ing a robot­ic sys­tem on your pro­duc­tion line, con­tact Robots​.com experts today; online or at 8777626881.

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