Industrial automation entails the use of computerized systems and information technologies for managing processes and equipment in an industrial environment to replace the human labor. Davesrl lists the following types of industrial automation which are still in use.
- Fixed automation
In fixed automation, a series of operations are performed which are fixed and defined by the equipment configuration. It is used in high volume production that comes with dedicated equipment and machineries. Instances for fixed automation include automated assembly lines, machine transfer line and distilled process.
- Programmable automation
In programmable automation, a series of operations can be altered by altering the program itself. A series of operations can be changed on the basis of various product configurations. Additionally, new programs can be equipped into the programmable devices for the new products. This kind of system is used in the batch processes, industrial robots, steel rolling mills etc.
- Flexible automation
Flexible automation is an extension for programmable automation. This provides a greater flexibility to handle the product design variations. Operators command by giving codes in the program to alter the series of the process. Lower level equipment receives the commands in order to operate without any loss in the production time. Flexible automation is useful in manufacturing multipurpose automation guided vehicles, CNC machines etc.
- Integrated automation
In integrated automation, the entire system is fully automated under the computerized control. Beginning from the designing process to the final dispatch, the entire system is entirely automated. Even the equipment used is managed by the robots. Integrated automation is useful in computer integrated manufacturing systems.
- Sensors and actuators
The former senses the process variables and transforms them into signals. They transform temperature, pressure, velocity etc.
Actuators transform the electrical signals into mechanical in order to gain control over the processes. These entail magnets, relays, servomotors etc. Many sensors and actuators can interact with the industrial field communication buses included in the smart devices.
- Industrial computers
PLCs or programmable logic controllers or industrial computers perform many control functions. It entails CPU or processors, input/output modules etc. in order to connect many I/O devices and relay modules.
- Human Machine Interface
HMI can display the info on computer screens, logs the result in the database etc. It uses technologies such as SCADA or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition among other visual based technologies.