The term automation is familiar to all. but a commonly agreed-upon definition still eludes us Some authorities view automation as a totally new set of concepts that relate to the automatic operation of a production process: others view it simply as an evolutionary development in technology in which machinery performs some or all of the process control function. Automation is a set of concepts. but it is also evolutionary in the sense that it is a logical and predictable step in the development of equipment and processes.
Some major developments in manufacturing automation include machining centers numerically controlled machines. industrial robots computer aided design and manufacturing systems flexible manufacturing systems computer-integrated manufacturing and islands of automation.
Machining centers not only provide automatic control of a machine but carry out automatic tooling changes as well. For example, a single machine may be equipped with a shuttle system of two worktable that can be rolled into and out of the machine. While work is being done at one at don the one table on the second table. When machining on the first table is complete. it is moved out of the way and the second part is moved into position.
Numerically controlled t~C) machines are under the control of a digital computer. Feedback control loops determine the position of the' machine tooling during the work. constantly compare the actual location with the programmed location. and correct as needed. This eliminates time lost during setups. and applied to both high-volume. standardized types of products as well as low-volume, custom zero round .
Industrial robots are substitutes for human manipulation and other highly repetitive functions. A robot is are programmable machine with multiple functions that an move devices through specialized motions perform any number of tasks is essentially a mechanized arm that can be fitted with a variety of hand like fingers or grippers, Vacuum cup or a tool such as a wrench. Robots are capable of performing many factory operations ranging from machining processes to simple assembly.
One of the major contemporary approaches to the product design process is compute raided (or -assisted) design (CAD). CAD may be defined as carrying out all structural of a product or component at a specially be visualized by rotating the product on the screen. and individual components can be enlarged to examine particular characteristic. Depending on the sophistication in software. on screen testing may replace the early phases of and modification. CAD has been used to design everything from computer chips to potato chips.
Frito- Lay, for example. used CAD to design its Grady 's double-density, ruffled potato chip. CAD is also now being used to custom design swimsuits. Measurements of the wearer are fed into the CAD program, along with the style of suit desired. Working with the customer. the designer modifies the suit design as it appears on a human form drawing on the computer screen. Once the design is decided upon, the computer prints out a pattern. and the suit is cut and sewn on the spot.
Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) uses a computer to integrate component design and processing instructions. In current CAD/CAM systems, when the design is finalized, the link to CAM is made by producing the manufacturing instructions. Because of the efficiency of CAD/CAM systems. design and manufacture of small lots can be both fast and low in cost. Even though CAD/CAM systems are usually limited to larger companies because of the high initial cost, they do increase productivity and quality dramatically. More eternal active designs can be produced, and the specifications can be more exact. Updates can be more readily made, and cost estimates more easily drawn. In addition, computer-aided process planning (CAP) can shorten and, in some cases. even eliminate traditional process planning.
A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) actually refers to a number of systems that differ in the degree of mechanization, automated transfer, and computer control and are sufficiently flexible to produce a wide variety of products. A flexible manufacturing module is a numerically controlled (NC) machine supported with a parts inventory, a tool changer, and a pallet changer. A flexible manufacturing cell consists of several flexible manufacturing modules organized according to the particular product's requirements. A flexible manufacturing group is a combination of flexible manufacturing modules and cells located in the same manufacturing area and joined by a materials handling system, such as an automated guided vehicle (AGV). A flexible production system consists of flexible manufacturing groups that connect different manufacturing areas, such as fabrication, machining, and assembly. A flexible manufacturing line is a series of dedicated machines connected by AGVs, robots, conveyors, or some other type of automated transfer device.
Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) integrates all aspects of production into one automated system. Design, testing, fabrication. assembly, inspection. and materials handling may all have automated functions within the area. However. in most companies, communication between departments still flows by means of paperwork. In CIM, these islands of automation are integrated, thus eliminating the need for the paperwork. A computer links all sectors together, resulting in more efficiency, less paperwork, and less personnel expense. Islands of automation refer to the transition from conventional manufacturing to the
automated factory. Typical islands of automation include numerically controlled machine tools, robots, automated storage retrieval systems, and machining centers.