Automation justification

Automation ROI: For maximum return on investment (ROI) when deciding to automate, ensure systems can scale with an operation, evolve, and be redeployed for maximum return on investment. For a productivity boost, follow 6 key steps for determining when and where to apply or upgrade automation. Don’t automatically think commercial-off-the-shelf technologies are better than a lean customized solution. Finally, economical controllers and universal programming software can ease the point of entry.

09/09/2013


For maximum return on investment (ROI) when deciding to automate, ensure systems can scale with an operation, evolve, and be redeployed for maximum return on investment. For a productivity boost, follow 6 key steps for determining when and where to apply or upgrade automation. Don’t automatically think commercial-off-the-shelf technologies are better than a lean customized solution. Finally, economical controllers and universal programming software can ease the point of entry. See more description of each article and links to each at the bottom.

This Alvey Hybrid motion control system shows robotic arms manipulating cases inside a conventional palletizer. Hybrids offer flexibility and repeatability of robotic arms with the speed and reliability of conventional palletizers, which can be ideal forWhen to automate: Conventional and robotic applications

For modular conventional, robotic, or hybrid motion control applications, ensure that systems can scale with an operation, handle evolving packaging styles, and be redeployed to alternate production lines for maximum flexibility and return on investment.

When deciding when to automate, system integrators can help

Automation can boost productivity when correctly applied. Here are 6 steps for determining when and where to apply or upgrade automation.

Custom automation vs. commercial-off-the-shelf, or both?

How to automate is as important as when. Custom is not a four-letter word. Weigh the benefits of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and a custom solution, rather than restricting an automation project view to a COTS or custom solution. Customers may steer away from anything custom for a variety of reasons—many of which are unfounded.

When to automate: Economical controllers ease the entry point

With automation becoming more flexible, smaller lot sizes can make it practical to profitably automate what previously was considered only for hand assembly. Modular, flexible embedded PCs, programmable with one software platform, can lower the entry point for when to automate. Here are considerations when looking at what and when to automate.

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com 

Online extras

Also see the “Real World Engineering Blog” July 16 post, “If it ain’t broke, don’t automate it?” Maybe it is broke, and you just don’t recognize it. Sometimes problems and inefficiencies in plants persist simply because nobody wants to take responsibility for finding a solution. Effective automation might be the key.

Also, link to the following: 10 steps to a smoother automation system upgrade -- When migrating or upgrading your automation system, don’t forget to examine this group of areas outside of the HMI, controllers, and I/O. These suggestions will help you identify and deal with lurking problems early in the process.

 



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