Posted on: 23 June 2017Share
Automation is now widely used in a range of manufacturing processes. Machines are able to complete repetitive work extremely reliably and – unlike human operators – don't get distracted or suffer from fatigue towards the end of a shift. Although some manufacturing facilities are completely automated these days, most rely on a combination of human and machine interactions to produce products. What are the commonly used industrial automation devices that manufacturers prefer in their factories today?
Vibratory Feeding Systems
Often used in pharmaceutical production facilities and food processing factories, vibratory feeding systems help to deliver products in a suitable manner for the next stage of the manufacturing process. This might be, for example, so that pills stand on end so that they can be date stamped. Alternatively, sweets might be vibrated so that they are oriented correctly to be placed in their final packaging. Vibratory feeding systems can also be used to sort imperfect products which are either too small or too large for the product standard because these items will react differently according to the degree of vibration they receive.
Robots have long been used in technologically advanced production facilities, such as those making cars and consumer electronic devices. Robots are especially good at doing individual jobs, like laying out wiring over a system or providing spot welds at very precise positions. Many robots that are used in assembly situations need to be monitored to ensure they don't require any recalibration. Today, this monitoring tends to be done by sensors reporting back to a data logger, a system which is itself a type of automation.
Most production facilities work on a line system so that goods begin their journey at one end of it and are ready for shipment when they reach the other. Conveyor belts and low-friction rollers tend to be used to transport goods down a line, but in some facilities, other systems are used, such as autonomous and automated trolleys. Conveyor belt systems still tend to be the preferred method of moving goods between production stages because they can cope with differing heights and tight corners if needed.
CNC laser cutters are now widely used to cut all sorts of components to size. Standing for computer numerical control, all that is needed is for a PC to be uploaded with CNC data about the size and shape of a component, and the system's laser will cut it accurately to those dimensions. Paper, plastics, steel and virtually all other materials can be cut using such an automated approach.