Examples of Industrial Automation

Posted: January 31, 2024

Industrial automation has continually expanded in popularity over the last few decades. In 2021 the market size for industrial automation was $192 billion and is predicted to reach $395 billion by 2029.  

As a global leader in industrial automation our teams have decades of experience engineering automation systems for a wide range of industries. If you are new to automation, or looking to grow your automation footprint, it is important to understand the impact it will have on your business. The right solution can significantly improve operations to gain efficiency, reduce costs, and fill labor gaps. 

Learn about different types of automation solutions for a variety of industries in this blog. 

What is industrial automation? 

Industrial automation utilizes control systems, machines, and robotics to perform a variety of tasks with the goal of automating production. Technology for automation includes robots, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) systems, PLCs (programmable logic controllers), numerical control machine tools and sensors.  

There are four types of industrial automation: 

  1. Fixed automation: Often used when performing a set task, fixed automation is best utilized for large volume, continuous production.
  2. Programmable automation: Used for batch production, programmable automation is ideal for lower volume production runs where more changeovers take place. 
  3. Flexible automation: Flexible automation offers more process flexibility and automated changeovers, helping to reduce downtime and increase customization of products.  
  4. Integrated automation: As automation advances, integrating machines and software into one system for real-time monitoring is becoming more popular. Integrated automation allows for fully automated production lines that increase flexibility and connect the entire production floor. 

Benefits of Industrial Automation 

Automation offers several advantages that can increase operational efficiency. From reducing costs to increase output to improved product quality, companies across many different industries are seeing the value of automating their production operations. Benefits of industrial automation include: 

  • Reduced labor gaps: As companies experience difficulties in hiring, automation can step in to fil in labor gaps and keep production running.
  • Increased output: Through increased efficiency and longer shifts (robots can run 24/7), you can increase the output of your production lines over manual operations.
  • Reduced costs: Robots can help to reduce errors and damage, leading to less material waste. Additionally, automation is more efficient at handling repetitive tasks, speeding up processes that take longer with manual effort.
  • Increased safety: Robots can handle work that could pose ergonomic or safety risks to your employees.
  • Increased productivity: Automating your production can help to identify bottlenecks or faults in your system, solving issues before they come significant problems. Additionally, robots can reduce errors as well as streamline processes that allow for continuous operation.
  • Higher quality products: Through repeatability and validation, automation devices can ensure a consistent quality of your product reducing waste and rework. 

Examples of Industrial Automation 

As a custom automation integrator, our teams have had the privilege to work with a variety of customers across a wide range of industries. Here are three examples of automation solutions that were developed to improve unique operational challenges.

Flexible Palletizing and Packaging System

Advanced Drainage Systems, a leading manufacturer of stormwater and wastewater solutions, was looking for an automated solution to optimize the strapping and palletizing of 10-foot-long sticks of plastic pipe, which are extruded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Due to labor shortages and increasing demand, the company was having a hard time keeping up with packaging and palletizing, leading to piece loss and quality issues. Additionally, the length of the plastic piping and its flexibility led to safety and ergonomic challenges for their employees.  

Our team collaborated with ADS to develop a solution that could efficiently mix and match pipe types into different quantity packs before palletizing them. The system fed pipes onto a conveyor that moved parts to a custom-built hopper. The teams worked side-by-side to make sure that the new system would be able to move pipes through the system accurately, and then stack, strap, and finally transfer the stacks of pope to pallets or crates. 

 

Electric Vehicle Battery Pack Assembly Line

Lion Electric, a leader in electric urban transit and transport, needed to quickly scale their production as demand for their products skyrocketed. In order to do this, they needed to ensure all levels of implementation were done right, on the first try.

We partnered closely with the Lion Electric team to develop a fully-functioning prototype system that utilized the essential elements that the final system required. This meant creating a solution capable of Hi Pot testing, adhesive application, pressing, lasers, welding and final testing, all while being flexible enough to be adjusted as the project’s scope evolved. Once the prototype system was producing production-quality battery packs, the system was scaled up to deliver a fully automated solution. 

 

Modular Automation Platform for Flexibility 

We designed FlexChassis® modular automation platform to minimize up-front systems concepting, design and build time, allowing you to get products to market faster. The flexibility of FlexChassis makes it an ideal partner for process and assembly applications across a wide range of industries. The platform is built with standardized, pre-designed modules that can be reconfigured to meet a variety of manufacturing objectives as your business grows and changes.  

 

Understanding your needs is important when deciding to implement automation into your production operations. Partnering with an integrator that has extensive expertise across a variety of industries can help to ensure you are getting the right solution for your desired outcome. From becoming more efficient to dealing with labor shortages, automation can drastically change your business. Contact us today to learn more about different automation solutions. 

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