Competition, whether within an industry or another setting, is healthy because it acts as a driver of innovation within organizations. More than half of businesses admit that their industry has become more competitive in the past couple of years, so they’re pushing against one another, struggling to leverage any competitive advantage they may have. These days, it’s necessary to produce high-quality, consistent products at a competitive price. Many industries are introducing groundbreaking product designs and adopting integrated manufacturing techniques, besides making maximum use of automated devices. Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable solutions for improving competitiveness is industrial automation.
Industrial Automation Definition and Meaning
Industrial automation is pervasive across all fields and niches of the economy, enabling manufacturing, engineering, construction, power generation, and other processes. Briefly, industrial automation is the process of integrating computerized machinery, control systems, and other information technologies into an organization to replace human operations. The activities zero in on manufacturing, quality control, and material handling processes. The original purpose of industrial automation was to enhance productivity, allowing continuous mass production, and reduce the costs associated with human labor. At present, the focus has shifted to addressing errors in the production process. For instance, in the auto industry, engine piston installation is done using industrial robots.
Automation Is Widespread Throughout Today’s Factories
As more businesses look for ways to drive efficiency and reduce costs, automation in factories will continue to become widespread. Technological advances have overcome many of the limitations of robotics and automation, meaning that the new generation of robot systems is flexible and more versatile. Moreover, industrial robots are becoming more affordable and accessible. An automated industry is an industry that incorporates technology to eliminate the need for physical labor or assembly work. Examples include but aren’t limited to:
- Food & beverages. Process automation is common in production facilities and comes in the shape of advanced machines. In a beer bottling plant, for example, each step of the process is controlled, including washing, drying, filling, capping, and labeling. A programmable controller synchronizes each move. At present, even relatively small businesses employ automated processes.
- Electronics. Robots and machines can make small, precise changes to microchips and other tiny parts. Modern chips have up to 100 layers; they align on top of each other with nanometer precision. Electronics manufacturers find great value in collaborative robot systems, which work alongside humans, handling repetitive tasks or moving heavy components from one place to the other.
- Automation. The automation industry is the one that produces robots and innovative technology. The base, arms, column, and supports tend to be heavy, so robots are used to weld parts that accurately fit into the final assembly. An industrial robot can contain 2000 individual parts, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s assembled by teams.
- Construction. Automated construction leads to continuous working time throughout the year, so companies can work more quickly than ever before. Human efforts and risks are reduced by using machines, robots, and so on, in the right places. There are still a number of challenges to overcome as far as making technology mainstream in the industry is concerned, but automation will create the most impact and value in the years to come.
- Healthcare. Automation doesn’t focus exclusively on improving health care records. Robots are helping healthcare professionals provide more comprehensive care to patients while performing complex operations. Physicians are in control of the robots all the time, so they’re just tools to serve comfort. Surgical robots have greatly expanded their capabilities and offer advantages like better visualization and improved maneuvering.
Electric Drives Play a Major Role in Industrial Automation
Electromechanical conversion is at the heart of industrial automation. Mechanical energy is transformed into electrical energy or the other way around with the help of rotary motion. An electric drive, consisting of a Servo motor, is regarded as an important component of various industrial process equipment because it optimizes motion control. Besides the installation of motor power cables, other aspects must be taken into account, such as if the drive is to be retrofitted to a motor with unknown insulation specifications. The need for performance and efficiency optimization, not to mention the necessity of process flexibility, has led to an increased use of electric drives.
Electric drives command references, such as position, speed, and torque, and respond with alarm conditions the moment that faults occur. To put it simply, drivers control the speed of various types of motors present in a machine. The speed of the Servo motor is controlled by a Servo drive, which is mounted with the motor. After receiving the input command, the grinder wheel covers different pulses given to the Servo amplifier, to which the motor is connected. Indeed, there are different types of Servo drives, yet the most common one is the torque-mode amplifier. A large variety of communication protocols is available for electric drives to share information within the industrial context. Missing a deadline would lead to total system failure.
What Is Industry 5.0?
While companies and industries are at the center of the fourth revolution, the next revolution is already on its way. Robots, smart machines, AI, IoT, and big data are still key to success, but the focus will be on sustainability, resilience, and enhancement of human talent. In other words, humans and machines can enhance each other’s strengths. It’s not the inevitable, but the most likely outcome. In practice, things might be difficult, but no problem is impossible to solve. Industry 5.0 is about finding the ideal balance between efficiency and productivity. To remain the engine of prosperity, the industry must lead the digital transition. To sum up, the idea of industry 5.0 applies to every sector and organization you can possibly think of. Its applicability is, therefore, wider, enabling new and more efficient processes, and yielding new goods and services. Challenges are present, such as the fact that people have to develop new skills to work with robots. Also, the adoption of new technology takes time and effort, and conservative companies tend to ride out the new wave of innovation. But there’s hope for the best.