Five Complex Engineering Problems Full-Scale Automation Technology Can Solve

Category: Automation, Capabilities

Automation Technology Software Process System Business concept. Hand touching automation button inscriptionFrom the world of manufacturing to the vast fields of agriculture, from the precise domain of mechanical engineering to the critical infrastructure of our country’s power grids, and beyond, automation stands as the catalyst for innovation and progress.

Automation technology has become an absolute necessity to succeed in any industrial environment, from manufacturing and mechanical engineering to agriculture. From robotic arms for welding or material handling to advanced sensors and instrumentation to computer vision systems, there is a wide range of automation solutions available to solve complicated problems in your industry.

However, no one automation solution is a silver bullet to the most complex industrial challenges. Just as humans work best together, automation in engineering delivers the best results when multiple automation solutions are integrated across the entire spectrum of industrial operations.

Improving Product Quality With Automation in Manufacturing

From consumer products to cutting-edge industrial machinery to medical devices and equipment, a high standard of product quality is a critical waterline for manufacturers to meet. Industrial manufacturers in particular have a duty to their customers and clients to ensure consistent and reliable performance from their products.

If human error slips into the assembly of complex, intricate industrial equipment, it can have serious consequences for the customer including unexpected downtime, increased maintenance costs, or even safety hazards. Ultimately, this can reflect poorly on the manufacturer, giving them a reputation for poor quality.

Full-scale mechanical automation technology involves automation throughout the entire manufacturing process, going beyond just placing the responsibility for consistently assembling precision parts into the hands of robotic arms. Combining automated assembly lines and machine vision inspections with collaborative robots (cobots) and advanced quality control algorithms keeps humans in charge while maximizing their productivity and minimizing the risks of human error.

Increasing Productivity With Automation in Agriculture

Since the invention of agriculture, harvesting has been a laborious affair—one that has for thousands of years spurred humans to invent new and better technologies to improve efficiency and harvest yields. Farming is done at an unimaginable scale today compared to our ancestors—a scale humans struggle to keep up with.

Manual monitoring and harvesting operations in large agricultural fields are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Inefficiencies in these processes can lead to yield losses, increased operational costs, tighter margins, and a negative impact on overall crop production.

In the United States, the vast majority of crop calories go into animal feed and biofuels, making agricultural productivity a matter of more than just feeding humans. Productivity and efficiency in agriculture have a ripple effect across countless industries.

Full-scale automation in agriculture includes solutions such as GPS-guided tractors and planters, precision agriculture sensors, and automated harvesting and weed control systems to maximize yield and minimize tedious and physically demanding human labor. Using IoT equipment, smart irrigation systems, and data analytics, farmers can optimize the management of their fields, monitor large-scale crop conditions, and make more informed decisions to ensure the success of their crops from planting to harvesting to distribution.

Ensuring Consistent and Precise Welds With Automation in Mechanical Engineering

Massive engineering projects depend on precise and consistent machining and assembly of large-scale parts with complex geometries and tight tolerances. Take, for example, shipbuilding, in which large structures must be welded together with a degree of precision and consistency which is especially challenging for human welders.

Inconsistent welds can compromise the structural integrity of ships, subjecting workers and crew to potential safety hazards during and after construction. Inconsistent welds also increase the need for maintenance and repairs, driving up the cost of keeping the ship running.

In these large-scale industrial environments where human error and inefficiency can have equally large consequences, taking advantage of full-scale automation in mechanical engineering provides powerful solutions. Automated welding systems with adaptive control systems can consistently perform precise welding operations and maintain a high standard of quality throughout the assembly process, while cobots and autonomous material handling systems help human operators transport and lift large and heavy components.

Keeping Power Grids Maintained With Full-Scale Energy Automation

The power grid infrastructure that delivers electricity to everything from households and businesses to hospitals is extremely complex. As resilient as our electrical systems are, the occasional fault can slip through and deprive millions of power.

Inspection and maintenance of the power grid are essential to keeping power flowing, but conducting these processes manually is time-consuming and can lead to delays in detecting faults or negatively impact your ability to respond proactively to potential issues. Unplanned outages or sustained downtime can result in substantial economic losses.

Energy automation has the power to minimize outages and downtime and improve the resilience of our power grid. By connecting supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to predictive maintenance analytics and IoT sensors, energy automation solutions can continuously monitor power grid health and performance, automatically detect and isolate faults and reroute power around them, and deploy robots for high-risk maintenance tasks such as repairing live power lines or accessing hazardous areas.

Preventing Unscheduled Downtime with Hyperautomation

No machine can work at full capacity forever. Industrial machinery has a lifespan just as everything else does, and like anything else, as it ages it can gradually lose efficiency or break down on the production floor—especially without proactive maintenance. The resulting unscheduled downtime can be costly in terms of lost productivity, increased maintenance or repair costs, and potential damage to connected equipment.

Even mechanical automation solutions can break down and need proactive, preventative maintenance to maintain smooth and consistent production at full capacity. By implementing hyperautomation—the total integration of mechanical automation technology with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)—industrial manufacturers can minimize unscheduled downtime and keep their automated processes running smoothly.

Connecting the AI and ML capabilities of hyperautomation systems to IoT sensors creates a system that can analyze real-time data and historical data from your automated industrial processes. With this data, your equipment monitoring system can track changes in efficiency or identify potential equipment issues. When it detects an issue that could escalate, you can take proactive steps to schedule maintenance or repairs outside of operating hours or arrange scheduled downtime, fixing the problem without severely impacting your operations.

Take Full Advantage of Full-Scale Automation with Winn-Marion

With so many diverse automation solutions available, it can be difficult to even know where to begin implementing full-scale automation across your industrial processes.

For over fifty years, Winn-Marion has been connecting a wide range of industries to automation solutions that outperform all others, with a focus on industrial and semiconductor markets throughout the Rockies. Our mission is to provide end-to-end, full-scale automation solutions, from design and fabrication to installation and ongoing maintenance.

Contact a Winn-Marion solutions engineer today to find out how we can help you use automation technology to its full potential and solve your toughest challenges.

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