Industrial Automation

Industrial Automation

Industrial automation is the use of automated control systems and devices such as robotics and computer software to control industrial processes and machinery, resulting in automatic functioning of industrial processes without the need for significant human intervention. Industrial automation is implemented to make industrial production processes simpler and efficient. Furthermore, it helps to save on labor costs, eliminate the possibility of human error, save time, create a safer working environment, and achieve higher efficiency.

Industrial automation has seamlessly integrated into almost every industry, with automated systems doing everything from manufacturing to packaging, and controlling HVAC systems.

Industrial automation involves the use of a wide range of tools that incorporate different devices and systems that impact on different aspects of the assembling or production process. Some of the industrial automation tools include; PLC’s, PC’s, machine drivers, sensors & actuators, human-machine interface systems, robotics, and communication modules.

Types of industrial automation systems

Fixed automation system – This system is designed to perform fixed and repetitive tasks, and there are rarely any changes made to the operations. This system is commonly employed in mass production systems.

Programmable automation system – In this system, assembling or processing operations can be modified using electronic controls. Reconfiguring this system takes a considerable amount of time and a longer setup, and it’s usually used in batch process production.

Flexible automation system- A flexible system is controlled by computers and offers great flexibility for making changes to the assembling or processing operations. These changes can be implemented quickly through commands. This system is best suited for production processes where the product varies frequently.

Advantages of Industrial Automation

Improved efficiency

Automated systems work faster and harder than humans, and can be deployed for 24 hours in a day 7 days in a week and 365 days a year.

Automation improves quality

Industrial automation cuts out the factor of human error to guarantee products of a higher and consistent quality.

High flexibility

Introducing new production capabilities in a production line results in many training hours for operators. However, automated systems can be programmed to do any task. New production capabilities can be instantly integrated into an assembly line. This allows manufacturers to save money and time on training.

Improved safety

Automated systems remove employees from dangerous work environments such as extreme temperatures, exposure to hazardous chemicals, poor air quality, heavy objects, and other dangerous working conditions.

Higher information accuracy

Manufacturers require production-related data to make informed decisions. Manual collection of data can be costly and prone to human errors. Industrial automation allows for automated and accurate data collection using sensors and devices.

Reduces costs

Industrial automation significantly reduces operating costs. Unlike human operators, an automated system does not require things like paid leave, holidays’ healthcare cover or any employee benefits. Although the initial costs may be high, subsequent costs are lower compared to employed human workers. Moreover, industrial automation achieves higher efficiency with fewer workers which means a higher return on investment.


Industrial automation has truly revolutionized the manufacturing sector in many ways. Manufacturing is certainly a tedious process without automation. Therefore, manufacturers need to adopt industrial automation to streamline production and boost profit margins.

Is Your Factory Ready for Lean Manufacturing?

Is Your Factory Ready for Lean Manufacturing?

Businesses deal with a lot of issues on a daily basis. Activities may be hindered by delivery problems, extended lead times and issues with factory and office workflow. Most corporations wonder how they will know if they are ready to engage in lean manufacturing.

The good thing with lean manufacturing is that it gives a business the “nitty-gritty” that constitute effective operations.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

This is a commonly misinterpreted word. It is thought to be a method of copying what other companies do. However, Lean manufacturing is more of learning from other companies with the knowledge that not everything that seems to work for them, will work excellently for you.

All businesses are unique, hence call for techniques that are aligned with their goals.

It is common for many businesses to seek Lean when they feel that they have taken care of all the basics. A more informed view is that Lean is the actual basis.

Lean follows practical approaches such as scrapping bureaucratic and complex procedures. This takes businesses from large scale messes to smooth performance.

Problems That Arise When Implementing Lean

The industry is packed with Lean trainers and consultants. Most of them introduce what they think will work for you after interpreting the Lean approach. Unfortunately, this method is likely to lead to overly rigid procedures. When the approach is carried out in the form of complicated diagnostics and checklists, it not only fails to resolve the problem at its core but also becomes extremely resource hungry.

For the Lean solution to work, the core business problems such as quality, lead time and engagement of staff have to be understood and targeted.

Is There a Particular Time When a Business Is “Ready For Lean?”

Some issues such as problems with strategic direction may hold up the implementation of Lean. Areas such as marketing and sales might also call for immediate attention.

Commitment to other projects might mean that Lean implementation takes a break. There may be inadequate resources as a result of an ongoing commitment.

Some changes that occur on a large scale may make a particular time not fit for launching a Lean program. For instance, if your company is laying down future management changes or is in the process of being acquired, it is wise to see these essential activities through to completion.

As much as Lean programs have great benefits to any organisation, shifting the focus of key staff from a running project to Lean initiative is difficult.

The Bottom Line

Your business is ready for Lean manufacturing if: your internal processes are unsuccessful, your delivery and quality is unpleasant to your customers; frustrating to them, or none of your staff is willing to be held accountable for any activities.

There is always some sort of gap even when things don’t seem to be bad. It is very rare that your company will get to a point when you feel that the Lean journey has been travelled successfully.




Top 5 Lean Manufacturing Companies in the World

Top 5 Lean Manufacturing Companies in the World

  1. Toyota

Toyota is among the top three automobile manufacturers in the World. Indeed, the success story is true philosophy. It has replicated itself in many forms, resulting in the ‘Lean’ concept as it is known today.

The Toyota Production System (TSP), based on the Lean management philosophy, lead to the development of the Lean manufacturing concept. The TPS is a unified socio-technical system that encompasses its management practices and viewpoint.

Socio-technical systems are approaches to intricate organisational design geared towards spotting the communication between technology and people in their places of work. TPS is sometimes recognized as the Toyota Way.

The main objective of Toyota’s Production System is to get rid of discrepancy and overstrain in a design that removes waste. Materials and resources that count as waste include; time is taken as consumers wait for assistance or a particular product, and unnecessary movement.

Toyota’s model also holds that the process is as lithe as resources can allow. A flexible process is able to overcome stress, a burden that makes more waste to be generated.

  1. Ford

Ford’s waste elimination journey began way back at the beginning of the 20th Century, pioneered by the firm’s founder, Henry Ford. He tested ideas on waste and wrote a book: “My Life and Work”. In the book, he related the description of “waste motion” to a farmer fetching water from a lower point and taking it higher by using a ladder instead of installing pipes to take the water around.

Ford demonstrated that setting aside budgets for the purpose of enhancement was by no means waste expense. This was because development reduced waste and improved efficiency.

  1. John Deere

In 2003, the largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world set on a journey to transform Iowa, US. The objective was to introduce lean manufacturing in place of mass production, and it was to set the manufacturer back a whopping $100 million.

According to Kallin Kurtz, the Project Manager, there was a change in the manufacturing engineering outlook owing to the success of the project. Non-value-adding activities were identified and scrapped at the first opportunity.

  1. Parker Hannifin

This Ohio-based company is among the largest shakers in the motion control technology sector. As from 2000, the company with over 50000 employees the world over, began the implementation of best practice programs in customer service, productivity, cost reduction and throughput.

The management body at the firm came to the realization that tailored E-commerce tactics hastened the supply chain process as a result of the dramatic decrease in human involvement.

  1. Textron

Cessna Aircraft, Bell Helicopter and Textron Systems form the American industrial corporation. They have a tailor-made approach, known as the ‘Textron’s Lean Sigma Standard’ which is a common and all-inclusive set of techniques and tools to be applied in every functional area.

Each department benefits from the standard in terms of accelerated innovation and growth, waste elimination, and variation reduction.