Industrial Automation Does Much More Than Control Manufacturing
Industrial automation is not just the devices and machines that run your manufacturing operations. Industrial automation has a more comprehensive calling, looking down from a loftier perch that oversees integrated production operations, data acquisitions, purchasing, logistics, and building automation. You can guess a lot of the benefits from this kind of infrastructure that is in place for your business. A lot of conversation is the main thing that comes from this close-knit community of operations controllers. When the purchasing agent has some new plastic raw materials delivered into inventory, the production operation is immediately aware of it by industrial automation. When the material handling section of the manufacturing operation moves an amount of the screw caps for bottles being made in production to the line, bringing the inventory level down to the re-order point, purchasing is made aware of it immediately.
When a pallet-load of finished products is moved to shipping for transport to a new customer the bill-of-lading is automatically generated by the automation system.
Industrial automation is an integrated network that connects all of the sources of information in the company with all the destinations of information that need to know what has just transpired. The immediacy of supply of this information to the data destinations is a significant leverage for a manufacturer that is in need of supplying the marketplace with products when the demand is high. There are a lot of companies that have only part of the total automation network established in their operations. They may have the part of the network that advises the purchasing department that raw materials have arrived, but do not have the part that tells the production department the raw materials are available to be used. In this case, not having one link in the network can render the network almost ineffective. It needs to be an all or another deal. The business needs to have the entire network in place to reap the full benefits that the network can afford.
When you become interested in building an industrial automation network, you should look at your entire operation from a very high level. Even though you may not implement the entire network after the planning stage to set up a network, at least you will be aware of the areas that can be added to the network at a later time. The plan that you make for industrial automation should be a long range one that would include all the possible areas of your company that could benefit from an installed network. Be sure to keep the plan up-to-date as time passes. If you discover areas that need to added to your plan then make the effort to add them. Make modifications to your plan as time passes, so that you will be able to build a complete automation network if you ability to do so presents itself at some time in the future.
There are companies that help you determine the pathways for information that would be best for you to build inside your operation. When you start to review the current network you have in place, you will probably see that you have a data network for information movement and a power network for driving the system that you have in place. There needs to be an establishment of the interoperability of these networks. In creating the sharing of information in the industrial automation network your company will increase the security of the network and the entire operation. Management and other operations personnel will have better visibility into current manufacturing operations. There will be an establishment of real-time data available, which will make it much easier to make real-time decisions about operations.
Having networks converge causes a reduction in cost and downtime and mitigates risk. The entire business will gain in agility in being able to react to market pressures and demands. Control levels of all parts of the business will increase with the increase in reaction times to changes as they happen. The availability of data to the point where it needs to be will allow for the reduction in complexity. Only data that needs to seen by purchasing will be made available to purchasing, while data that needs to be seen by robotic operations will have the ability to see it. This makes the management and decision-making much easier for individual departments.
Industrial automation when implemented effectively across the entire organization can make running the manufacturing much less complex and secure. The convergence of systems for carrying this data to its owners will make this happen sooner than later.