Every business looks to optimize production cost. Automation at low cost is beneficial two fold- it eliminates or at least reduces labor cost and it brings down overall production cost. Industries look for a cost effective life cycle that is suitable for automation: design, production, operation, maintenance, refitting or recycling.
Automation in production is achieved with the help of distributed information processing and decentralized decision making supported by software agents. The future perspectives for developments include virtual machining and wireless connected components. Low Cost Automation could be a boon to small manufacturing businesses and it is a cross sectional area benefiting from methodologies and developments of other fields of automatic control.
Benefits of automation
Initial cost of automation might be high but the overall cost works out to be cheaper, considering that it comes with minimal operation and maintenance cost. It also promotes flat hierarchy.
Low Cost Automation proves to be cost effective in terms of reference architectures and development approaches for production and transportation.
Batch processing in manufacturing that involves major complexities and the manufacture of mixed parts. This can be done in a cost effective automation process.
Shortened product production cycles with the need for more intelligent, faster and adaptable assembly and manufacturing processes can be framed with reduced reconfiguration and maintenance time.
Low cost automation ensures that the manufacturer survives in a competitive market with his pricing strategies. Scaling production up and down is a lot easier in an automated system than in a traditional production model. Automated production systems can adapt to changing manufacturing environment results with regard to cost optimization and increased production.
Low cost automation ideally allows scope for human intervention where there is a gap that needs human actions and functionality. Reliability of automated systems is better than with traditional production systems.
Example of Low Cost Automation in Production
A popular example of low cost automation in production involves Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). The concept was designed to connect the design of parts to the machines at the workshop through shop floor planning and scheduling software. This was initially done with expensive components and instruments. As time progressed, this turned out to be expensive because a centralized control was required to ensure there were no uncertainties and unexpected events. Decentralization of control, it was found, required a lot less sophisticated hard- and software. This reduced costs majorly and is considered a breakthrough in small and medium production units.
Low Cost Production Automation is designed in such a way that implementation of this procedure is extremely easy and requires very minimal skills. This facilitates better maintenance as well. The shop floor generally has a lot of clutter and automation works on removing as much clutter as it can and that is why it is very optimal for this purpose. Implementation, at times, involves the application of robotics and offers a lot of promise in the future years.
Low Cost Automation is definitely the way to go, in production units.