Industrial Automation: Get the Best out of Technology
Do you know the importance of industrial automation? It is based on the use of technology to perform control activities on mechanisms and functions with the strategy of improving the entire production process of an industry.
Thus, automation is part of sectors such as electronics, mechanics, information technology (IT), among others. It is responsible for increasing productivity and competitiveness in this area of the market.
The global industry has been undergoing a great revolution – as relevant as the one that led us to current production methods. Thus, with technological development, machines and other systems began to work together, making processes more optimized and intelligent.
However, it is common for doubts to arise about the future of the industrial sector and how to keep up with such changes. Although there is a similar development scenario around the world, it is necessary to be aware of each country’s situation to understand how these changes will happen in your business.
Automation is not limited to the industrial area. Today, you can find these processes in households, where there is connectivity of various appliances and household items to optimize people’s lives.
Therefore, we have prepared this guide so that you know how to get the best that industrial automation can offer. Keep reading and check it out!
Why is industrial automation a necessity?
Industrial automation is notably based on the means to automate the procedures that a certain service can develop. Regarding activities on an industrial scale, regardless of the area of operation in question, there is a consequent and precise inference in replacing human labor with mechanics.
In other words, in the process of industrial automation, machines and a range of other technological devices are adapted, which will be followed and have their processes conducted through certain variable and applicable programming according to each demand. All of this, in order to allow an increase in the productivity of the work developed by the business.
It is possible to state that industrial automation is determined as a collection of technologies that are chosen, programmed, and used in various production series models. In this way, they enhance certain demands.
Purpose of Industrial Automation
This increase is related to the quality of services offered, the quantity of production, and often also to a noticeable decrease in the company’s costs, resulting from the use of information technology. This tends to result in an increase in production and new demands, as well as ensuring better cost-benefit ratios.
The main purpose of industrial automation is based on the creation, development, and employment of mechanisms that are competent to meet existing needs and ensure high-quality production. All of this is done in a way that can quickly and efficiently display all processes with the lowest possible cost to the industry.
This type of action enables a wide variety of activities to be carried out, not only simultaneously but also in an agile and coherent manner. Thus, since the production processes of the industry are largely repetitive and continuous, manual labor is subject to a large margin of error.
Therefore, industrial automation processes aim to prevent such possibilities of problems, in order to ensure a reliable and safe production movement.
What should be known about industrial automation?
The first understanding that must be had about industrial automation, perhaps, is the most important: knowing how to determine its objectives. The more detailed the goals are (which does not mean they need to be of complex understanding), and the more quickly they are specified, the better for the industry.
Objectives should be the first thing to be observed in a project. You should determine them in a detailed, understandable, and transparent manner. Suppliers and service providers can be consulted to obtain information, but they should only be chosen after their goals have been defined.
The second issue to be aware of is the motivation to promote the insertion of industrial automation in the company. It is this that sustains the determination of goals and the decision-making process.
This motivation can be based on the need to reduce labor costs, increase energy efficiency, improve the accuracy of produced goods, reduce the number of work accidents, etc. All of this influences unique decisions, and it is interesting to know which need initiated the industrial automation project.
It is difficult to develop a professional and appropriate strategy without using all the engineering knowledge and experience available to promote industrial automation. This means that this automation should not be carried out solely as a common optimization for the company.
After all, it is necessary to hire qualified companies, determine time and effort to execute, and require a well-structured, specified, and suitable basic and executive engineering project from its employees and partner companies, in accordance with current technology. This is an evident issue, but one that often does not materialize in practice.
Industrial automation needs to be done to simplify work in the industry, to help those involved achieve positive results with greater safety. Often, by implementing inefficient automation without training their team and without specific objectives, this solution may not result in any practical advantage.
It is not enough to install the best quality equipment and machines found on the market if they do not meet their goals and do not help operators during their work shifts. Communication is also essential throughout the operational process. In an industrial automation project, you should determine what type of information should be displayed and in what format.
What are the pillars of industrial automation?
Since automation aims at providing increasing autonomy to industrial productions, it is understood that there will be much less human intervention in the processes. Through interconnected tools by systems, all of this provides greater security for those working in the industry and increases production agility.
Check out some of the pillars of industrial automation that offer great advantages for the industrial sector below.
Artificial intelligence is no longer part of a distant future, it has become a reality for businesses today. It is widely used in industries that operate on a large scale, for example, in the automotive industry.
Through artificial intelligence technology, a company is able to create a large quantity and quality of products with reduced human interference, only requiring the programming of the desired function and authorizing the machinery to do the rest, making the production system very practical.
Big Data and Data Analytics
These are intelligent mechanisms that have the competence to organize, collect and verify a huge volume of data, from various places and at all times, such as from the production machines themselves.
Thus, due to these systems, it is possible to know if there are problems in the processes, in order to ensure greater productivity and efficiency when there is growth in production resources. All of this can be analyzed in real-time, which promotes automation and optimization of industrial processes.
According to Industry 4.0, robots have become much more than just machines programmed to perform a certain function. They now have the ability to be autonomous and act intelligently, even interacting with other machines without human supervision.
As a result, labor costs decrease and production increases. After all, robots do not need to stop to rest, eat, go to the bathroom, and do not need to be interrupted during the night and on weekends.
Therefore, the industrial sector gains more power for growth, scalability in production, and becomes much more competitive in its segments of activity.
Cloud computing is a tool that is becoming increasingly present in companies everywhere. When applied to automated industrial processes, it increases production capacity and speed.
Everything becomes simpler because cloud computing allows remote access to various systems, facilitating the integration of all machines present in the industry.
Internet of Things in Industry
The Internet of Things (IoT) is based on the concept that all technologies are interconnected by sensors and internet connection. When it comes to IoT in the industrial area, everything that happens in a production plant can be recorded virtually.
Sensors will create and analyze information so that decisions can be made quickly, as well as allowing access and control of the entire production process.
Three-dimensional printing is already a reality and is being prepared to be used on a large scale in the industrial sector in the coming years. With this type of equipment, it is possible to create unique items, since the 3D printer allows for customization with a high level of precision and efficiency.
In addition to being practical and accessible, these devices have benefits such as cost savings in production. It is possible to promote the printing of very simple products, such as personalized labels, to complex merchandise, such as prosthetics for humans using much less capital than traditional methods.
Due to process automation and Industry 4.0, the entire production chain can be simulated virtually. This allows for the feasibility of creating virtual environments with merchandise, machines, materials, processes, and people.
As a result, everything can be verified without the need for production to be halted, thus reducing maintenance costs and loss of time.
How can this concept also apply at home?
Automation does not only apply in industry. The use of technology in homes can also automate and simplify some routine activities that, in a conventional residence, would be the responsibility of the residents. This is what is known as home automation.
This automation refers to a solution model that aims to provide greater comfort for homes. Thus, this is a flexible technology, in which it is up to the user to determine how they will benefit from this concept.
Among the main advantages of these systems, there is the possibility of improving time by reducing daily activities, providing greater comfort, savings, and above all, security.
The goal is to connect devices to each other, which, in turn, are activated and communicate through a command, accessed by cell phones, computers, tablets, including:
- Electric sockets;
- Windows and doors;
- Temperature control system;
- Garden irrigation mechanisms;
- Smoke detectors;
Surveillance cameras, among others.
In this perspective, for example, you can turn on and off the lights at specific times daily, activate the lighting as soon as the security system alarm is triggered, or even program your air conditioner to operate for a few minutes before you arrive at your residence.
In addition to these more immediate actions, monitoring applications are capable of providing precise data about the residence. This is because they present detailed reports on equipment that could be spending less or performing better.
These are just some of the possibilities, as home automation works and offers several benefits to its users.
What are the main steps to proceed with industrial automation?
Knowing the likely failures that your company presents may be one of the first steps to advance with the process of industrial automation, after all, it is not always possible to stop what you are working on to promptly investigate the threats and weaknesses of the business.
However, when it comes to industrial automation, it is essential to understand that these are investments that will promote advantages in various ways for the company, whether in the short, medium or long term. All of this requires a lot of effort and an understanding of the real needs of the company.
The first step to proceed with industrial automation is to detect the problems that are constant in the company, such as:
- Improper tool maintenance;
- High energy bills;
- Waste of electrical energy;
- Damage to items that are essential for work.
After investigating the adversities that have become routine, it is necessary to proceed with a planning with possible solutions, whether short, medium or long term.
To do this, after knowing the origin of the problem, it is necessary to determine a cause and effect guide, in order to know what can be done to prevent this situation from continuing. If your biggest problem is high energy consumption and waste, for example, it is essential to identify which machine this occurs in or in which areas of the industry the problems occur.
After that, it is time to seek measures that are capable of solving the obstacle (short term) and to prevent new problems resulting from it (long term) from appearing.
It is known that investing in industrial automation does not always reflect a simple and low-cost solution. Thus, it is necessary to create an efficient cost and viability plan. It is in this planning that the strategies with the greatest urgency and the capital to be invested in the company’s automation process will be determined.
After that, promoting what is on paper to the reality of the company is an action of a good manager who knows when and where to invest and how it can provide advantages that the business needs.
What are the benefits of investing in industrial automation?
There are several reasons to invest in industrial automation. Here are some of the benefits that make a difference:
Productivity is an obvious benefit, but it should be mentioned for the quality that will be employed in the means of production. With the use of automation, many jobs that are currently done manually can be performed by machines and software.
This includes everything from production line activities to industry management actions, such as inventory, finance, and process management. As a result, the industry becomes capable of doing more in less time, increasing revenues without increasing costs, and optimizing overall profitability.
More strategic action
Automation also allows for more strategic action by both employees and managers. In this perspective, the goal is no longer just operational but focused on results, identifying specific changes capable of generating significant returns.
An example of automation that promotes this advantage is IT integration. When the entire IT structure of the business works from the same system, it becomes much easier to identify errors and opportunities for optimization.
Culture of innovation
When an employee goes to work with his or her head preoccupied with completing bureaucratic or manual tasks, there is little time left to have ideas and present solutions. On the other hand, when machines and computer software take care of manual work, workers can unleash their potential to become successful leaders and managers.
This opens up space to foster a culture of innovation throughout the company. With this, ideas to create more revenue, reduce expenses, or improve processes can come from anyone in the company.
One of the goals of any business is always to reduce costs in order to increase profitability. With an industrial automation system, this advantage is created.
It can save on payroll by reducing the number of employees and hours worked. A system can also save on facilities by making everything more common, such as lighting systems, as well as reducing electricity costs by creating more in less time and automatically shutting down when not in use.
In addition, there is also a reduction in indirect expenses. For example, waste creation is reduced, which saves the industry money on both materials and disposal processes.
One of the great benefits of machines and systems is that they can provide standardized results. In a company focused on food production, for example, automation can ensure heating, mixing, and waiting times.
This results in denser work and product quality without problems or carelessness resulting from human error. It also simplifies the process of obtaining certifications such as ISO, bringing greater reliability to the brand among consumers, the market, and suppliers.
As we know, human error is common. However, this can lead to many accidents due to personal failure. With the introduction of industrial automation in risky situations, human work can be replaced by efficient and operational machines and systems to prevent errors and avoid harm to workers.
In an automated industrial system, the chances of machine accidents due to errors are very low. This is because automated mechanisms are programmed to perform a certain function, significantly increasing safety.
Moreover, the NR-12 regulatory standard requires machine manufacturers to comply with strict safety practices. Through their integrations with IT systems, they can operate in risk locations, chemical processes, foundries, explosive environments, etc., without the need for any worker to take risks.
With monitoring, leaders and managers do not need to be in the company to know everything that is happening. In other words, with the digital transformation of recent years, it has become much easier to remotely check everything that is happening in the business.
With industrial automation, the company can connect control systems to machines and programs. As a result, responsible professionals can keep track of their numbers and results even when they are far from the factory.
Ultimately, staying up-to-date means that the company aims to produce more with less costs, utilizing the maximum that technology has to offer. Therefore, it is very important to introduce industrial automation into your business with the goal of reaching new markets and standing out against competitors.
Now that you know what industrial automation is, you can start with lighting. So contact our experts and make your lighting automation project in your company and enjoy the benefits of technology!