The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Improved productivity is one of many tangible benefits you can expect when automating your production lines. With the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) already in full swing, the best time to consider simplifying your manufacturing processes with automation is right now. In this article we define industrial automation, we reveal how automation works in production lines, and we explain how this can bolster your manufacturing plant’s productivity.

Industrial automation defined

Industrial automation can be described as the control of processes and machinery by autonomous systems using powerful software, meticulous sensors, detailed interfaces, capable robotics and other technologies leading the 4IR.

Optimising of production lines

A project we completed a few months back is the perfect example of how an existing production line can be enhanced with 4IR technologies. We upgraded an old W&H tuber with Baumüller and Invertek automation solutions, achieving two outcomes for our client: Minimise machine downtime & reduce energy costs. Here’s what we did:

  • Servo Drives & PLC

We used the Baumüller bmaXX5000 series servo drives, along with the Baumüller PLCmc, as part of this project. Perfect control was achieved using an EtherCat network, and active mains rectifiers were installed on tension axes to push power back into the grid for other motors to utilize.

Where position control wasn’t needed and a variable speed drive would do the job, Invertek P2 VSDs over EtherCat were deployed. Remote push button stations were replaced with EtherCat versions of the same brand. The project comprised of 143 EtherCat nodes in total, all communicating at lightning-fast speeds.

  • Motors

The existing paper tuber system’s two main motors were swapped for the Baumüller DS series motors. These two motors control the length of the finished product and the adjustment of a variable length knife.

We achieved synchronous operation through Baumüller function blocks, coming standard with the Baumüller PLCmc. This small package PLC runs in the microsecond processing range, making it perfect for multi-axis synchronous motion control applications.

Read the full project description here.

How improved productivity is achieved

We’ve identified numerous ways in which automation improves productivity in the production line, and we’re unpacking three of them below:

  1. Increase manufacture output

Saving as much as a few milliseconds at different points in your production line could end up increasing how many products you produce in a given time.

  1. Reduce manufacture errors

Human input and machine malfunction often lead to wastages during production. Automation applications reduce the need for human interaction in the production line.

  1. Increase employee productivity

With less human interaction throughout the production process, employees are made more productive by having more time to perform other workplace functions.

Industrial automation solutions in South Africa

Motion Tronic is a preferred South African industrial automation specialist based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Our process automation solutions come from the global leaders of the industry, including the likes of Invertek, Baumuller, Microsonic, Servomold and Inovance. We specialize in creating, enhancing, and maintaining production line automation solutions. Get in touch to discuss how we can boost your factory’s productivity, saving you both time and money while improving your bottom line.