Ready to Automate Series 1: Machine Tasks

Oct 2, 2020

Parallel to the feasibility of automation from a financial point of view, you must think about the machine itself in terms of the different aspects that are needed for your applications. The following questions can be helpful to identify your requirements and incorporate this information into the decision-making process of choosing a machine.

  • What are the tasks at hand and what tasks do you expect to carry out in the future?
  • Which functionalities do you require?
  • How flexible should the machine be?
  • What are the general conditions of use?
  • When and how often would you use it?

Automation can be a daunting and complicated process based on the tasks that need to be automated. Physical tasks operated in a repetitive and predictive manner are much easier to be automated. Therefore, as a prerequisite you need to identify tasks that are to be automated and their complexity. Also, you may need to think of the modifications that need to be made to the product or the process in the foreseeable future. Thereafter, identifying production quantities or measurable outputs of each section will be beneficial in designing the automation system as a whole.

Once you have identified the tasks or processes that you need to automate, you can focus on the functionalities. There can be different ways of achieving one task and you need to have all these options available to you. As an example, a gripping action can be performed using hydraulics, pneumatics or using electrical actuators. If you are planning to alternate these options in future, you need to incorporate these functions into the system design from the start. In general, all these additional features that you may need, should be included in the machine design.

Flexibility is another important aspect that should be considered when designing an automation system. In terms of mobility as well as functionality, it is beneficial to have a high degree of flexibility. You may build a sophisticated and unique machine to automate the whole or a part of the production process. However, a change in the product or production process would cause huge modifications to the system which will be a financial as well as a temporal burden. Therefore, flexibility should be a key aspect when designing an automation system. Collaborative robots such as the UR5, have been designed to solve this problem to an extent. When used together with our TracePen, it becomes the most effective solution for most of the automation tasks.

Each product or production process requires special operational conditions. In the medical sector, a clean and contaminants-free production environment is a must. In other cases, the production process is subjected to extremely high or extremely low temperatures. Some systems are highly sensitive to vibrations. Beyond just these physical conditions that need to be taken care of, different countries have different laws that need to be adhered to. These laws can be related to human safety, environmental impacts, commercial aspects and much more. Such conditions require special attention when designing or choosing an automation system.

Maintenance costs and initial investments in automation can be considerably high. Therefore, you must consider the usage frequency of the system. If you plan to use it very rarely, then this might not be a good process that needs automation. In contrast to this if your production capacity is high, you should make provisions for system downtimes as well. Having quantitative answers to these questions makes it much easier to justify your automation solution.

Automating your processes is serious business but this should not be a burden. If you have questions or you need more information, please contact us today and we will be happy to help.

The automation of automation, the automation of intelligence, is such an incredible idea that if we could continue to improve this capability, the applications are really quite boundless.

Jensen Huang

About the authors

Stephan Weber

Project Manager

Prasadi Gunawardana

Business Development Working Student

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