Thursday, April 2, 2009

Industrial Automation a first hand experience



In this era of technological marvels spanning from terrestrial travel to cloning, automation of every aspect of Industry is the future of our species.
From the Stone Age, Iron Age to the Modern atomic age, humans have strived to make their lives easy, safe and comfortable by using technology. Technological improvement has been an offspring of that burning passion of humanity.
The manner that this objective has been achieved is through automation. In other words technology has been the creation of humans, to automate the various tasks that are necessary for living.
Automation has done wonders for mankind. The superb efficiency, precision and accuracy can never be achieved by manual methods.
With an ever increasing population, we are straining the already fragile balance of nature. As the resources are decreasing in an exponential manner, it is an obvious fact that automation is the only hope for the survival of our kind. Therefore it is of utmost importance that the future engineers are aware of the basics of industrial automation.
Industrial automation is the use of robotic devices to complete manufacturing tasks. In this day and age of computers, industrial automation is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing process because computerized or robotic machines are capable of handling repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently.
Machines used in industrial automation are also capable of completing mundane tasks that are not desirable to workers. In addition, the company can save money because it does not need to pay for expensive benefits for this specialized machinery. There are both pros and cons for a company when it comes to industrial automation.
On the plus side, with soaring healthcare costs, paid days off, vacation time, and other costly employee benefits, companies can save money with industrial automation. While robotic machinery can initially be extremely expensive, the loss of monthly wages for production workers leads to incredible savings for the company.
While machinery used for industrial automation can break down, it does not happen often. If it does, only a handful of maintenance or computer engineers are needed to handle repairs and get lines running smoothly again.
In addition, many plants hire dozens of production workers for a variety of shifts and need to close on certain days. Industrial automation, however, allows a company to run the plant twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, without paying overtime. This fact alone can add up to significant savings.
E.g.:
A company that employs forty-eight factory workers on three different shifts and closes on weekends, for example, can save thousands of dollars with industrial automation. This is particularly true if weekend work is necessary, which means overtime pay of time and a half must be paid for Saturday work and double-time for Sunday. This equates to an additional twelve hours of pay per employee. Of course, life insurance, 401K benefits, dental insurance, health insurance, pension coverage, and disability also contribute to the expense.

Industrial automation can eliminate the need for all forty-eight jobs.
The robotic machinery used for industrial automation may only involve a monthly payment until the machinery is paid for, a couple technicians to keep the robotic machinery running, and electricity costs.

Taken from IEEE UOM visit to Merbok


Merbok, A fully automated factory in the Horana industrial zone manufacturing MDF boards. The specialty; the rubber logs are put in from one end and the manufactured boards are received from the other end of the manufacturing line. The whole plant is controlled by PLCs.

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