WORK FAST, WORK SMART, WORK EFFICIENT – is the mantra of success. So customers are constant in their demand for innovative, end-to-end technologies with open architecture that will work from the assembly line to factory floor and further.
Customer expects solutions that will be ultra-reliable, standardized, customizable and able to perform in extreme conditions. And if you can integrate new technologies into their existing systems – then you’re the solutions partner they’re looking for.
So, we have come far in the journey from hydraulic and pneumatic systems to today’s modern robots. Industrial automation has taken birth precisely to make great advances to previously performed manual activities on the shop floor – and is seen as a revolution that has brought greater efficiency, higher product quality, and lower costs into manufacturing.
One of the pioneers of industrial automation is believed to be Ford Motor Company, when in 1913, they introduced their car production assembly line. And mass car production took off from there. In the 30s and 40s automation was used majorly in fighter airplanes, warships and tanks. After the second World War Japan became the front runner in industrial automation, when companies like Honda, Toyota and Nissan produced numerous high quality and reliable cars.
Then in the 70s the original DCS was developed by a team of engineers at Honeywell. Followed by invention of PLCs and then HMI softwares for the PLCs. Innovative sensors and actuators came into the market, and many industrial automation companies were founded for niche applications. Newer and smarter widgets and gizmos appeared everyday.
Today’s industrial robots come armed with high quality computing as well as operational capabilities and vision systems. These systems can operate only in highly structured environments with some amount of human intervention. Many repetitive and high-precision activities in large factories are being done by industrial robots. With rapid development in microcomputer and software technologies, automation in manufacturing has become dependent on these to automate, optimize and integrate the various components in manufacturing.
Automation growth occurs mainly in international markets, where new factories and plants are being built. With rapid technology acceleration, it’s hard to predict what automation will look like in the coming years. Many manufacturing units still have old style systems with conventional wiring, which can be de-cluttered as the wireless systems grow.
New generations of robots will be smaller, less expensive , simpler to setup, and packed with smarter software. Future generations of robots will be multi-functional, and hence might be put to different uses. People however will not be replaced by robots. These automated machines will need people to design, program and service them – transforming manufacturing to high-tech workplaces.