What Is Factory Automation?


Factory automation is a system of machines that take over a number of menial tasks that humans normally do on the factory floor. The machines are programmed to carry out these duties with greater accuracy and precision, making for a more streamlined production process. While there is a cost involved in getting the machinery set up and running, once the systems are in place, they can save companies money in the long run by lowering overhead costs.

Automation isn’t just a powerful tool for large manufacturing plants; it’s also a key component of many smaller businesses’ strategies. From reducing waste to improving in-house processing control, these automated processes can help a wide range of industries streamline their operations.

The term “factory automation” is a broad one, and it can refer to a variety of technologies that are used in the manufacturing process. For example, some facilities use programmable automation to automate industrial processes that are characterized by specific codes and instructions for the machine to interpret. This type of automation can be adapted for new products or to meet changing customer needs by simply adding or updating the code.

Another form of factory automation involves a fixed automated system. This system consists of multiple machines that are linked together by transfer systems and electrical control, which takes a developing product through a series of steps to completion. These systems can be configured for a number of different types of actions, including packaging, welding, cutting, or vision inspection. The final product can then be packaged and ready for shipping.

A fixed automated system can be augmented by robots that are designed to perform a single action. This can include feeding and handling parts, robotic systems, 3D sensing vision, packing, welding, rotary indexing tables, or more. These machines can be monitored through a data dashboard and alerted when their performance is not meeting predetermined specifications.

Finally, there are also factory automation systems that operate with a limited amount of human intervention. These systems can be supervised by employees, but only to oversee and monitor the equipment. This allows staff to focus on other aspects of production, including system design and monitoring, supervision, or making enhancements.

While the initial investment is required to get a factory automation system up and running, the return on this investment comes in the form of lowered labor costs, reduced production delays due to human error or other unforeseen events, fewer accidents, improved product quality, and increased profitability. These benefits make it a worthwhile consideration for any company looking to improve its efficiency and bottom line.