The technique of operating or controlling a process with the help of automatic equipment can be defined as automation. In other words, use of technological applications to oversee and manage a production process. Automation is used in all kinds of industry, namely, manufacturing (pharmaceutical, food industry, or petroleum), transportation, utilities (electricity, water, and gas), defense, and facility operations, like security, or energy management.
Fixed automation gives company results, like low unit cost, automated material handling, and higher production rate. Yet, one should keep in mind that it entails high investment in the initial stages and inflexibility in adapting to product changes in future.
Programmable Automation: Provides the ability to change the sequence of operations so that the equipment can accommodate different product configurations. The operation sequence is monitored with a set of coded instructions in the form of a program, which the system can read and interpret.
This gives the company advantages like flexibility when dealing with variations in designs and is quite suitable for batch production. Programmable automation is accompanied by high investment in general purpose equipment and has a lower production rate than fixed automation.
The advantage of applying this particular system is that production is continuous and a variety of products can be manufactured simultaneously. Like programmable automation, it offers flexibility regarding design variations. Yet, flexible automation requires high investment and results in higher unit cost when compared to fixed automation. It initiates a medium rate of production.
The disadvantages of automation though few are quite noteworthy.
As machines are assigned with a certain task, there is no room for flexibility.
Operating a large number of machines requires fuel or gas, which in turn, leads to pollution.
Considerably high initial investment.
The increase in automation leads to decrease in employees, causing an increase in unemployment.
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