Demystifying Industrial Automation

JJS Manufacturing Insights Industrial automation is a complex subject filled with plenty of jargon. Thankfully, Stephen Mraz has come to the rescue by putting together this informative blog post aimed at simplifying the subject.

Writing for MachineDesign, Stephen approaches the topic of Industrial Automation by splitting it down into bite size chunks. To begin with he explains the differences between Field, Control, Supervisory and Enterprise levels of automation. He then goes on to explain the three types of automation systems which include fixed (or hard), programmable and flexible (or soft) automation.

Finally, Stephen touches on five benefits that automating a process or an entire assembly/production line can bring.

So, if you've been mixing up your PLC with an HMI or you've always wondered what an automation hierarchy looks like, this article explains everything you need to know in a simple to digest format.

Automation takes mechanization one step further. While mechanization replaces manual labor with machines, automation replaces human guidance with controls hardware, computers, and programming (PCs, PLCs, and PACs, for example), together with some help from communication devices and hardware. But automation systems can be complex, with a large number of devices working in synchronization. To make it easier to talk about automation, especially when done in a factory setting (industrial automation), engineers and plant managers have divided the topic up into three categories: field-level automation, control-level automation, and enterprise or information-level automation.