Technology has massively evolved over the last two decades and has transformed the nature of manufacturing and industrial operations. Today, industries are no longer completely dependent on their human workforce for complex or simple tasks. The advent of IoT and machine learning has given industrial automation systems a competitive advantage. Automated production is efficient, reliable, transparent, and predictable when integrated end-to-end. Today, man and machine are working more closely than ever before and industrial automation systems are a very good example of the same. The implementation of new technologies in industrial automation systems is creating opportunities for manufacturers, globally. Industrial automation systems help achieve consistency, quality, and reliability in the manufacturing process and also help in controlling and monitoring data at multiple points efficiently. In this article, we have discussed a few influential trends in industrial automation systems that fuel the excitement surrounding the automation process. But before we jump onto those trends, let’s understand different types of industrial automation systems based on their integration level and flexibility in the manufacturing operations and processes.
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Types of Industrial Automation Systems
The high-volume production settings that have dedicated equipment use fixed automated systems. This is one of the types of industrial automation systems that are being used in continuous flow systems and for discrete mass production like distillation processes, paint shops, conveyors, and transfer lines.
This is one of the types of industrial automation systems that facilitate changeable operation sequences and machine configuration using electronic controls. With this type of automation, non-trivial programming efforts are needed to reprogram machine operations and sequence. Such automation systems are mainly used in low job variety and medium-to-high product volume settings. This can also be used in mass production settings like steel rolling mills and paper mills.
These automation systems are utilized in computer-controlled flexible manufacturing systems. Flexible industrial automation is utilized in job shops and batch processes with more product varieties and low-to-medium job volumes.
This automation system involves the complete automation of manufacturing plants, where every process functions under digital information processing coordination and computer control. Such types of automation systems can integrate business systems through a common database. Such technologies are used in advanced process automation systems and computer integrated manufacturing.
Key Trends in Industrial Automation Systems
Machine Learning Helping in Better Accuracy
Machine learning and AI have penetrated customer relationship management segments. They can be considered as the cornerstone of IoT, Big Data, and Industry 4.0. With constant changes in the behavior of a consumer in terms of customization and product quality, manufacturers are trying to change the production systems. This is where machine learning helps. Manufacturing units can leverage machine learning and data analytics for improving processes. These systems help in forecasting yield rates at different supply chain levels, thereby, protecting the quality of the brand and reducing the cost of raw materials.
Smart Industrial Robots – A New Trend
The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) has brought with it promises of intelligent industrial robots on factory floors. The constant development of robotic technologies has expanded the potential applications for smart industrial robots. Thus, robots driven by cutting-edge software and vision systems can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks, which can serve the demand for flexible manufacturing.
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Progress in Industrial Cyber Security
In the past few years, there has been a significant rise in cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. This has made cybersecurity, a major concern amongst the vendors and users of industrial automation systems. The progress made in industrial cybersecurity management is helping cater to the crucial requirements of equipment and industrial automation applications, as these relate to rigid constraints on system updates and network communications.