Factory automation is the use of computer operated machinery and equipment within a factory setting. Almost any piece of equipment or any machine today can be custom made or modified to become automated. Some common pieces of automated equipment include conveyors, sensors, assembly lines, robots, pick and place systems, and actuators.
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Applications of Factory Automation Equipment
Factory automation equipment is a broad category of machinery that includes tools and systems used for many applications involved during manufacturing, assembling, packaging, and other processes that are performed in a factory. Factory automation is widely used by factories that work in a variety of industries performing agricultural, automotive, computer, electrical, electronics, food and beverage processing, medical, semiconductor, and telecommunications applications.
Items that are used in an automated system include:
- Pick-and-Place Arms
- Marking Equipment
- Vision Systems
- Pallet Transfer Systems
- High Speed Assembly Machines
- Testing Equipment
- Bulk Handling Equipment
- Cleanroom Applications
Features of Factory Automation Equipment
Factory automation describes a characteristic of a piece of equipment or a system. Factory automation systems are composed of many individual pieces of automation equipment and are able to practically run themselves. Individual automated machines require more effort from the operator to load and unload the machine or to turn the workpiece around. Instead of needing an operator to place the workpiece on the machine and remove it, a vibratory feeder may drop a workpiece onto a conveyor belt that carries it through a series of rollers. A robotic arm could pick up the workpiece and place it down on another machine where it is stamped, rotated, and stamped again. The product could then be conveyed through a spray booth, dried, packaged, and packed. Automation allows that entire process to take place without the use of a worker even touching the product.
Benefits of Using Factory Automation Equipment
Different factories work with different substances and products but having automated production equipment is beneficial across the board. Certain equipment and machine configurations are frequently used because of their efficiency and ease of use. Carousel systems, continuous motion conveyors, inline indexing, multi-station, rotary, synchronized, and walking beam transfer systems are a few of the many arrangements of equipment. Various motion control mechanisms are used to enable precise and repetitive movements independently of human influence. Operators oversee the processes but do not need to do as much work as they do without machine automation, which greatly reduces the need for operator involvement. Because they are automated, factory automation systems do not require much human control and are typically cost-effective, labor-saving, and consistent, as they are able to do the same exact motion time after time.