Technology has completely changed the face of manufacturing automation. Over the years, technology has advanced rapidly while most automation methods are still stagnant. Consequently, companies that apply modern technology to automate their processes disrupt entire industries within a very short time.
Listed, are some of the ways rapid technology growth is impacting manufacturing automation.
Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of computers to gain human intelligence. It refers to computers having the ability to think like a human being. Due to artificial intelligence computers are able to access, synthesize and understand data on their own.
How can artificial intelligence help in manufacturing automation?
With this intelligence, it will be much easier for factory machinery to identify incidences of malfunction and send out an alert to maintenance on it. In addition, machines will be able to collect lots of data on their effectiveness and efficiency which will help factory owners and workers identify and focus on the areas that add the most value in their processes.
Having gained intelligence, machines used in automation are then able to learn concepts on themselves without the need for human intervention. Machine learning is a
In the factory floor, machines and software used for automation with the ability to collect and understand data can teach themselves how to optimize their functions without having to be programmed.
Machine learning also makes it easier for fore example robots to learn how to perform different functions around the factory. The robot can be easily exposed to videos of how a process is carried out and learn from that.
Machine learning also allows machines to identify when mistakes in the production process are occurring and to rectify them immediately. This will ensure that there will be little to no deviation from the quality standard and products will always be of high quality.
Introduction of collaborative robots
Manufacturing automation, implies that human workers can be easily replaced by machines and technology.
While this is a possibility, human presence in the factory cannot be completely eliminated.
In this regard, collaborative robots have been introduced into the factory. As their name suggests, these robots work together with humans rather than separately. They are tools to ensure that production bottlenecks suffered by humans are easily eliminated.
Collaborative robots also known as cobots can complete different tasks around the factory. In addition, they help improve the workplace for humans by taking over the dull, dangerous and dirty tasks.
Collaboration between robots and robots
In addition to collaboration between humans and robots, technology has made it possible for manufacturing automation to occur as a result of collaboration between robots.
This is what is known as Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is a concept that describes a factory that does not have to operate with the lights on. This is because robots will not necessarily need the light to see their work. With vision capability in robots, these capabilities will not need the same light as human workers and as a result, lights will be unnecessary in that factory.
With artificial intelligence and technology such as the internet of things, in case of a malfunction in the machines, they could easily solve it themselves or send an alert to a maintenance staff who can then fix it remotely.
Internet of Things
This is another aspect of technology that will impact manufacturing automation. As already alluded to, the Internet of Things (IoT) technology will enable different machines to communicate with other machines.
With IoT, machines in a factory will easily communicate and learn from each other how to perform certain tasks efficiently and effectively.
Higher level tasks for human employees
With most automation technology reducing the workload for the human worker on the factory floor, human workers will have to carry out tasks that cannot be done by machines.
Tasks regarding sales, strategy development and communication and human resource management will still be handled increasingly by human workers.