Advantages of Industrial Automation – Industry 4.0

What Is Industrial Automation? 
  Automation is a future advancement in mechanization that uses human operators for performing machinery mechanisms for performing a task. The word automation means “self-dictating” or a mechanism to move by itself which is derived from Greek. The purpose of it is to make the manual operation of the task using advanced powered machinery that relies on the decision made by a human. It is a useful control system like a robot or computer, and it has information technology for managing several types of machinery and processes in an industry which replace humans. In the scope of industrialization, it is the second step beyond mechanization.   
Components of Industrial Automation 
  1. Control software
  2. Control Hardware 
  3. Field instruments 
  4. Industrial Automation 
  • Control software-HMI (Human Machine Interface) 
The exchange of information between automated machinery and employees present in the organization is achieved with the help of a human-machine interface. The output obtained from the machine is displayed in visual display units or LED displays. HMI helps in boosting productivity. Signals are used as input to control and maintain the automated equipment. HMI makes use of the technology known as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). 
  • Control Hardware- Programmable Logic controller (PLC’s) 
The functions of data conversion and handling the signals are provided by the Programmable Logic controller. It helps in controlling the manufacturing process and machinery assembly lines. The important module in it is microprocessors which can be programmed repeatedly. Others include I/O modules (both Digital and Analog) which are used to connect the various input and output module devices and relay modules.  
  • Sensors- field instruments 
The sensors detect the change in physical parameters and convert it into equivalent input signals. The change in the environment may be humidity, pressure, force, liquid flow and these changes will be converted into input signals.   
Advantages of Industrial Automation 
 
  • Lower operating cost 
When the company has human operators there comes around the situation such as health care costs, paid leave, holidays and even employee benefits like bonuses, pension coverage etc. Industrial automation helps to overcome these problems, though it is associated with initial high cost, but we can overcome monthly wages of the workers which makes a company have substantial cost savings for the company. The machine does not often fail hence the maintenance charge associated with machinery is less and only technical engineers or maintenance engineers are required to repair it. 
  • High productivity 
Nowadays, many companies recruit employees and production workers for up to three shifts to keep running the plant for 24 hours, but due to holidays and strikes the plant needs to be closed. The concept of industrial automation helps to achieve the target of the company in holidays and for 24/7 working hours without closing the company. This leads to a significant improvement in the productivity of the company. 
  • High Quality 
As we know that humans cannot be ideal in case of error associated with them. Robots used in the industries are 100% accurate and which results in uniformity of the Products obtained at all contrasting times. 
  • High flexibility 
If there is an up-gradation in Centralized Software and hardware the employees need training which requires some time and delays the process. But in the case of robots, they can be programmed, and the process becomes more flexible and timelier. 
  • High Information Accuracy 
By adding an automated data collection, it allows you to improve data accuracy, reduce data collection costs and collect key production information. By this the operator can make the right decision with accuracy and here there will be no wastage of time. 
  • High Safety 
Developing an automated robotic production line can prove safer for employees in case of handling hazardous conditions.   
The disadvantage of Industrial Automation 
  The initial investment requires huge investment because the sudden switch from humans to a robot in an automated production line is remarkably high. And some investment is required to train even the employees to handle new machinery.  But instead of adopting and transforming the whole factory to Industry 4.0, it can be executed in parts. Doing so will not cost much and one could take advantage of the benefits of industrial automation.   
Conclusion:
  Because of its huge benefits, industrial automation is finding more applications such as safety at lower costs, increased productivity, enhanced efficiency, accuracy of data, better management planning, time saving etc.