Today, it is hard to imagine industrial production processes being implemented without automation systems. Industrial or factory automation is a vast field that involves simultaneous working of software, machinery, software, and information systems to achieve increased production, superior quality, lower cost, increased flexibility, and higher accuracy. It has three levels namely supervisor level, control level, and field level which intercommunicate between them. The first level involves the use of systems such as industrial PC (IPC), human machine interface (HMI), and WLAN. Within the control level, there is the use of automation systems such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), HMIs, and field bus (CAN). The field level describes the equipment such as sensors and actuators such as magnetic valves, servomotors, power switches, and more interacting with a micro PLC or remote I/O system.
There has been a steady growth in the factory automation market in recent years. It is expected to reach billions by 2025. A surge in need for high product quality, the expectation of high reliability in high volume production, progression in technology, the maturity of the industrial processing technologies, and growing need for mass production with reduced operation cost are the factors responsible for the rapid development of the industry.
The concept is gaining acceptance from various industries owing to its numerous benefits. Manufacturers from all over the world are implementing automatic systems in manufacturing and other processes in order to stand out from the market competitiveness. For instance, Kontrol Energy, a Canadian company providing smart energy solutions and technologies, and Toyota Tsusho Canada Inc. (TTCI), the trading arm of the Toyota Group recently announced a partnership with the aim of scaling their solutions across a large customer base. Tempo Automation, an electronics manufacturer for prototyping formed an agreement with Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense company to expand software automation. Dassault Systèmes, the European software company partnered with Swiss-Swedish robotics firm ABB to develop software for industrial processes. Some other developments took place recently, including the Japanese motorcycle firm, Yamaha Motors’ recent announcement of showcasing several factory automation technologies at Hannover Messe 2019 which will be held from April 1 to April 5. Another is industrial automation solutions company, Omron Automation Americas’ announcement to exhibit advanced technology for flexible manufacturing, traceability, and more at the Automate Show that will be held in Chicago from April 8 to 11 2019.
Kontrol Energy and Toyota Tsusho Partnership
In March 2019, Kontrol Energy and Toyota Tsusho formed an agreement to offer smart factory technology solutions to OEMs in the automotive industry to increase production, manage energy, improve operating efficiencies, and reduce operating costs via digitization, real-time data analysis, and machine learning. This can be achieved by the integration of Kontrol’s Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software products with Toyota Tsusho’s operating improvement platforms and power generation products for the North American automobile and parts OEMs. According to the agreement, Kontrol offers the designing and monitoring software, quality assurance, and technical support to TTCI and its clients. It also does the designing and installation of building automation systems and heating and ventilation equipment. On the other hand, Toyota Tyushi obtains customers and carries out engineering, deployment, and after-sales services with clients.
Tempo Automation Forms Contract with Lockheed Martin
Tempo Automation formed a contract agreement with Lockheed Martin in March 2019. The reason behind the latter choosing the former is that Tempo greatly focuses on their software automation technology to develop a digital thread from creation to delivery. Its software links several operations of finished PCB assemblies such as order processing, parts sourcing, factory operations, shipment, and more. Tempo’s automated processes facilitate quick quotation, development, and delivery of high complexity printed circuit board assemblies. The company’s customer base can minimize the time for production and launch and obtain useful information throughout the manufacturing process, leading to superior technology in finished products.
Dassault Systèmes Collaborates with ABB
The aim of the partnership between Dassault and ABB is to develop software for digital industrial solutions based on the integration of the firms’ PLM and automation software products. The collaboration combines ABB’s Ability platform and Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and develops on the firms’ strong installed base, deep domain expertise, and global customer access. Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO at ABB said that the alliance would help best serve their customers and drive innovation and customer value, as well as transform their value chain to tap the enormous opportunities of industrial digitalization.
Yamaha Motors Showcases Factory Automation Technologies
At Hannover Messe, which is the world’s leading trade show for industrial technology, Yamaha Motors will be demonstrating technologies such as the Linear Conveyor Module LCM 100, a linear motor-based transport robot and the fast and precise SCARA robot. The products are aimed at facilitating increased productivity and variability on production lines, thereby providing the best solutions for factory automation. The LCM 100 can quickly transport work pieces and can be assembled directly on the slider, which reduces the transfer time drastically. The robot can change the stop position and process similar operations. The SCARA robot ‘YK 400 XR’ greatly helps in shortening the cycle time of the coating process.
Omron Automation Americas Exhibits at Automate Show
At the Automate Show, Omron Automation will be exhibiting many of the world’s cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for traceability and flexible manufacturing. The products are aimed at aiding manufacturers to enhance productivity, flexibility, and human-machine interaction. The company plans to present its Factory Harmony exhibit, a multifaceted display offering a vision of the manufacturing floor of the future. The demos show ways in which machines can interact effectively with humans on the factory floor. Other robotic solutions to be exhibited include the company’s TM Series collaborative robot, which is a flexible machine designed to facilitate human-machine collaboration, and the LD Series mobile robots that are designed to transport substances easily throughout the factory. Both the products are aimed at aiding companies to cater to the burgeoning need for customization without totally reconfiguring their production lines.