Industrial automation control systems are becoming increasingly crucial to manufacturing in a range of sectors. They are often viewed as technical solutions, however, they come under the remit of the senior engineering team at the coalface.
The fact is, though, industrial automation control systems impact the wider enterprise, which means they can significantly improve your business. These improvements centre around enhanced productivity both on the plant floor and in other areas of the organisation.
This, in turn, makes you more competitive and flexible in fast-moving markets, as well as increasing profitability and ensuring your business is prepared for the future.
Before going into how industrial automation control systems improve the wider enterprise, let’s first explain what they are.
What Are Industrial Automation Control Systems?
Industrial automation control systems involve the integration of devices, machines, and equipment within the manufacturing plant.
As mentioned above, however, they can also go further than this by integrating the system on the plant floor with the rest of the organisation. This includes compliance processes, supply chains, sales operations, R&D, and more.
Industrial automation control system solutions require secure infrastructures to enable communications and data transfers as well as smart devices for the collection of data. Usually, you achieve this through sensors on machines and equipment.
Industrial automation control systems also require hardware, software, and communication solutions that turn the data collected by the sensors into information that results in an automatic action.
That could be actions within the production line, such as moving from one batch to another. It can also go further than this, however, such as automatically controlling the level of production based on real-time and automatically collected data from sales and distribution channels.
As mentioned, most of the business benefits of industrial automation control systems revolve around improved productivity. In other words, optimising the manufacturing facility as well as helping to optimise the business overall
Examples include speeding up production time which lets you then optimise distribution channels and processes that can then also feed into sales and customer service operations.
Here are some of the productivity improvements that industrial automation control systems bring to your business:
- As the automation control system takes care of repetitive tasks, you can optimise the use of resources in your production lines. Those repetitive tasks cover everything from batch changeovers to recording batch information to scheduling routine machine maintenance and more.
- Automation control systems also increase flexibility and scalability. For example, introducing new products to the production line is a smoother and faster process. It is also much easier to scale production up or down as the needs of the business dictate.
- You will see improved accuracy of data collection leading to significant improvements in batch and individual product traceability. This saves you money as you need to allocate fewer resources to this process, plus it improves standards of customer service. It improves compliance in regulated industries
- Industrial automation and control systems also improve accuracy in your factory operations overall. This is because a programmed controller, such as a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) will perform a task to the same standard and within the same parameters every time.
- Your production facility will experience reduced downtime as automatic processes can predict failures, schedule the most efficient times for maintenance, and more.
- Finally, automation control systems result in fewer production errors saving time and money while also improving customer satisfaction.
A lot of the focus of industrial automation control systems is on the technical and plant-floor improvements they offer. The real benefits, however, exist in the business overall.