Products of discrete manufacturing are very often produced in large quantities from several dozen to several hundred. Because of this, it is often not economical to use single-purpose, automated machines, known as "fixed", to manufacture specific products. In such an environment, programmable automation is potentially very useful.
The essential difference between conventional factory machines and programmable automation is the latter's use of information technology to provide machine control and communication. The use of computers and communications systems allows these machines to perform a greater variety of tasks than fixed automation can perform, and to automate some tasks which previously needed direct human control. Programmable automation can respond to some of the central problems of manufacturing,which include enhancing information flow, improving coordination, and increasing the range and volume of a specific product.
By using programmable automation to address these problems, manufacturers can increase their productivity and control over the manufacturing process. Though labor savings seem to be the most obvious benefit of automation, savings through more efficient use of materials may be even more significant in many manufacturing environments. In particular, flexible manufacturing systems can reduce waste and reduce the manufacturer's substantial investment in the products that are in various stages of completion. The use of programmable automation in integrated systems is much more powerful than the use of a fixed machine in the same system. Such integration not only magnifies the productivity and efficiency benefits of programmable automation, but also tends to induce changes in all parts of the factory. Management strategies, product designs, and materials flow all change to best make use of such integrated systems. (PAT; Princeton) To learn more about how you can utilize programmable automation in your system download our catalog below.