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The Growing Use of Automation in Manufacturing

With the increasing need to reduce costs and drive greater throughput, manufacturers are searching for automation solutions to achieve higher efficiency. Automation in the manufacturing industry involves using equipment to automate production processes or systems.

Automation has gained popularity over the years as machines are more frequently used to minimize manual labor. It’s largely related to electromechanical systems programmed to perform various types of processes. Most companies can benefit from fixed, programmed, or flexible automation.

Fixed Automation

Also known as hard automation, fixed automation involves presetting automated production processes and assembly to create a product. The sequence of operation and production is secured by organizing equipment and tooling machines assigned for high-production requirements.

Fixed automation systems are designed for manufacturing the same product styles. Once the system is fixed, the product styles can’t be changed. Examples of fixed automation include web handling and converting systems, automated assembly machines, chemical manufacturing processes, machining transfer lines, and more.

Programmed Automation

This type of automation allows operation sequences and machine configurations that can be changed depending on the signals delivered from electronic controls. Moreover, products are produced in batches by reprogramming machine sequences and operations.

The products manufactured in this process are batch quantities that can be as low as a few dozen products or as high as thousands of units being produced. When a new production batch is needed, technicians can modify programmed automation to handle new and different types of products.

Examples of programmed automation include industrial robots, programmable logic controllers, and numerically controlled (NC) machine tools.    

Flexible Automation

This type of automation demonstrates some form of flexibility which refers to the capacity to manufacture different products in a short period. The process flexibility enables the production of different parts with coinciding life cycles.

The manufacturing method is designed to adapt and respond to the changing needs in production. Computerized systems controlling the machines are operated by humans using HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) or computer coding.

The system can be programmed or configured to simultaneously produce multiple types of products. CA central computer system controls the material handling and production systems. However, flexible automation involves high investment as it produces a custom-engineered system. Examples include material handling systems, assembly systems, and robotics.

Machining services

Based in Wisconsin, MD Design & Automation is a reputable design and machine firm. We collaborate with businesses across the United States and abroad to offer our clients fast, effective, and reasonably priced design, machining, and inspection services. Get in touch with us to learn more about CNC machining, jig and fixture design, automation in manufacturing, CNC prototype services, CMM inspection, and CNC and manual turning.

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