Industrial automation, increasingly popular in times of industry 4.0, can have many applications. It consists on the application of several devices used to control different operations of an industry without significant human intervention. These devices include computers, robots, sensors, communication systems, alarms, interaction interfaces, among others. In general, we can point out four types of industrial automation.

Process automation systems in their basic types are based on flexibility and the level of integration in manufacturing processes. Here are some of them:

Types of industrial automation

1. Fixed automation

In this system, operations are performed following the configuration of the equipment. That is, without the possibility of customization. It’s widely used to produce identical and high-volume parts. However, although the cost is lower, this type of process automation prevents the readjustment of production to create differentiated products. Such a system, for example, can be used on automated assembly lines.

2. Programmable automation

"Here, both machinery and software can be reprogrammed, allowing a sequence of different based on multiple product configurations. In addition, it’s also possible to include programs to create new products," summarizes Graziela Coelli, industrial production technician. Thus, this type of system is used in low volume productions, such as batch processes, steel mills, industrial robots, among others.

3. Flexible automation

It’s the evolution of fixed and programmable automation. That is to say: A hybrid of both. It offers greater flexibility in handling product design variations. Therefore, operators can give commands in the form of codes in a computer program if they wish to change the sequence of processes. Therefore, it’s possible to make different products simultaneously.

4. Integrated automation

In this type, the system is fully automated under the control of computers. From the design process to shipping, everything is integrated and automated. Even the team is handled by robots.