September 21, 2023

An automation system is a hardware or software solution that takes over rudimentary tasks for human workers. These tools can centralize routine work and increase productivity and efficiency while also delivering new insights into business challenges. They can even help reduce operating costs by minimizing downtime and reducing data collection expenses. But before implementing this type of technology, it’s important to consider all the advantages and disadvantages of automation systems to ensure it will be a good fit for your business.

Basic Automation
Often used in production facilities, this model uses digitalization to take over rudimentary tasks for human labor. These automated tools can increase productivity and give you new insights into factory operations to optimize processes. They can even provide new ways to improve the quality of your products and services. Using an automation system can lead to better product consistency, higher production rates, lower worker compensation costs, increased safety, shorter workweeks for employees, and reduced factory lead times.

Process Automation
The scope of process automation is typically broad and may include a wide range of departmental activities such as workflow automation, inventory control, data capture, or expense approval. This type of automation can be augmented with robots to create a flexible system that adapts to changes in workflow or needs. This can be especially helpful in job shops with a high variety of products or in batch processes.

Closed-Loop Automation
This form of automation relies on feedback to ensure a desired outcome is met or exceeded. It uses sensors to track responses of the actuator, comparing and contrasting with expected results. It can also track environmental conditions such as temperature or air pressure, ensuring the machine is performing correctly. This can help prevent unanticipated output or sudden system failure.

Integrated Automation
Unlike basic or process automation, integrated automation is an entire framework that automates a manufacturing process through computer control. This system combines many independently-operated processes, reducing complexity and streamlining communication between automated systems. This automation model can be augmented with robotics to reduce the need for human intervention.

Less Versatility
Most automation systems can be difficult to reconfigure for owners. Modularity and programmability features can also increase equipment costs. Additionally, since robots can only perform tasks based on specific instructions, any condition outside their programming could cause unpredictable output or sudden system failure. This can be mitigated by deploying Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions that allow you to hire an expert to monitor your equipment.

In addition to saving time, the best automation systems are platform agnostic and support a large number of devices from multiple manufacturers. This makes them easier to use for customers who have legacy systems. It’s possible to find a system that will work with the video doorbells, smart plugs, thermostats, smoke and flood detectors, home music systems, and even robots for vacuuming or mowing the lawn. This enables businesses to streamline their operations and make them more efficient without investing in expensive new technology.

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