Industrial automation involves the use of control systems together with other applications of information technology. The purpose of the process is to operate industrial machinery and perform other functions in a way that reduces the need for human intervention. In industrialization, automation goes a step further than mechanization, employing the use of robotic devices to perform manufacturing tasks.
While mechanization involves human operators assisted by machinery in the physical requirements of a job, automation reduces, if not completely eliminates, the need for the physical and mental input of humans.
The age of powerful computers is giving rise to industrial automation because computerized machines, referred to as robotic machines, can handle repetitive tasks efficiently and quickly.
The following are the advantages of automation:
- Execute dangerous and boring jobs – Human workers are reluctant to perform jobs that are either boring or hazardous. Robotic machines can easily perform these types of work.
- Handle tasks beyond human capabilities – Functions that involve handling heavy loads, large and unwieldy objects, or items at extreme temperatures are well-suited to robots. Robots can also perform jobs that need to be executed at speeds that are faster or slower than typical human capabilities.
- Provide economic benefits – Automation can pay dividends. After recovering the initial investments for automation, a company will be able to minimize its production costs. With fewer human workers, there will be savings in terms of employee benefits, insurance, and more.
The following are the disadvantages of automation:
- Technology limit – Technology has not yet extended to cover all production tasks. There are still functions that require human intervention, particularly in cases where decision-making is involved. Robots are not yet well-equipped for functions that require high-order thinking.
- Prohibitive initial costs – Investing in automation entails massive amounts of capital, which could drive up product costs.
Automation is beneficial in industries that involve repetitive processes, such as those typically handled by contract electronic manufacturers. A PCBA manufacturer can easily profit from automation because of the nature of the work.