Industrial Automation Services Answers
Should your plant or process be automated? When should you reach out to an industrial automation company? There is pressure to automate plant processes, but this pressure comes with little information in terms of exactly what automation options are available and what their real-world, tangible benefits will be. Read below to get answers to frequently asked questions about industrial automation services.
Industrial automation allows for faster product with less errors and increased product flexibility. Systems with advanced complexity, multiple changeovers or a variety of repetitive tasks can often benefit from automation. Automating will also allow you to gather critical operating data faster and more efficiently and guarantee that you are optimizing your operations with the best information available at all times. Ultimately, automation is becoming industry standard and will keep you up to date with competitors who are relying on automated processes for total control of the plant floor.
No. Simple systems that don’t require many repetitive tasks are often over engineered by automation. The goal when you automate a process is to achieve a higher efficiency and faster production, but if you’re automating the wrong systems or if you don’t have the proper bandwidth to handle the new technology, it can backfire. It’s important to consider a few things when determining how and when to go about automating your plant, namely:
- Why do I want to automate? (Less employees, more efficiency, reduce errors, faster production, multiple changeovers, better information to improve process, modernization?)
- What system would be the most effective as an automated system? These are typically the systems that are repetitive and that don’t involve any creativity or the “human touch” to execute.
- What teams do I have in place to make this automation project a success?
- How will my existing teams and systems integrate with this new automation?
A good automation engineer will only provide the automation you need.
There are many opportunities to upgrade plants to use industrial automation. Technology allows us to automate your systems whether you are working with a factory line up or a complex process system. Often, outdated systems can be upgraded for better efficiency and hardware that is supported. For certain repetitive processes, there is also the option of Robotic Process Automation, that can optimize and simplify entire plant procedures.
Other plant applications of industrial automation are complex control system migration and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).
Almost all industries can benefit from automation but a few of the most common industries that EPIC works with are food and beverage, commercial goods, energy, and pharmaceutical.
EPIC treats every project as a unique challenge so that we come up with a solution that is catered to your specific demands and desires. However, our Front-End Engineering Design process leaves nothing to chance and ensures that you have an information-based budget and timeline available to you before work begins. You know what to expect and what’s happening every step of the way. If you are interested in getting a quote for your industrial automation project, you can speak directly with an engineer by clicking here.
There are a few industrial automation platforms that are leading the way in technological advancement and practical applications. The most notable manufacturers of these platforms are: Rockwell Automation, GE, Cognex, Siemens, and Wonderware. EPIC works closely with all of these service manufacturers in order to provide the best solutions to our clients’ industrial automation challenges.
Most industrial automation technology is built with integration in mind, which is why it is such a popular and successful tool for modernizing your plant and increasing your ROI at the same time. EPIC will work with you to create a custom system that will focus on maintaining the integrity of your plant functions and integrate seamlessly into your existing systems.
Some automation systems do serve the purpose of taking over repetitive tasks that can be completed faster and more efficiently by machines. However, as a general rule, automation does not make your current employees obsolete. Most plants today run with a combination of automated and non-automated systems that are integrated together and run by a managing team of employees. Your employees will work with and manage the new system, and ideally, it will make the work easier and more efficient for your entire existing team without completely alleviating the need for humans.
The algorithms that run industrial automation systems give them a “logic” that allows them to work smarter and faster than traditional equipment manufacturing machines. In a way, it is like the difference between a calculator and a keyboard: a keyboard can just punch out the numbers while a calculator can come up with solutions. The highly complex programming software used in industrial automation makes your plant systems run using the smartest, most efficient solutions to each problem that arises.
Some beneficial features of a typical industrial automation system are remote operational control, real time communications, multiple integrated controllers, and a fluid integration of the plant networks across the plant’s operational platform.
Each project is different and varies depending on how modern your existing processes are and how much you plan to automate. As mentioned above, EPIC’s Front End Engineering Design process will allow you to receive a reliable budget before design begins so that you can plan accordingly. Contact an EPIC engineer for more information.