what is industrial automation?

What Is Industrial Automation?

As manufacturing becomes more and more about just-in-time production and cost-effective products, factories are automating more of their processes. This transfer of work from humans to computers and robots is known as industrial automation. Industrial automation (though we know how it may sound) does not completely eliminate humans, though, because humans are the ones creating and maintaining the automated systems. If you're interested in learning more about industrial automation and the opportunities you may find, read on. 

What are Some Real Life Examples of Industrial Automation?

Industrial automation is, as mentioned, the automation of industrial processes. So in the past, when you might have had people wrapping candies on an assembly line, or knitting socks and sweaters, now you have computers controlling robots that do the work. Industrial automation can take several forms, from complete automation to only controlling the detailed sections of production (for example, a human running a knitting machine, where the machine takes care of the intricate knitting, but the human loads the yarn, starts and stops the machine, and so on). Of course, automation is happening in more fields than just knitting and food; your cars, appliances, and electronic gadgets all benefit from industrial automation as well. Two things all automated industries share, though, are the fact that the machines were designed and built by humans, and the fact that the machines have to be maintained and repaired by humans.

How Has Industrial Automation Benefited Society?

Automating manufacturing has benefits for society, such as reducing the costs of manufacturing so much that the cost of the product produced can be lowered, sometimes significantly. Products are also made with more exact and standardized measurements; even the best human workers usually show some variation in the products they produce. Manufacturing can meet faster deadlines and provide people with more consistent products. Of course, automating these processes means the human manufacturing jobs are almost gone, but plants still require humans for maintaining and fixing the machines when something goes wrong. This is often where electro-mechanical technicians come in.

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What's the Environment Like?

While many industrial automation jobs require that you work in an office, you may also be sent out in the field or into a factory to work on machinery, which means a greater awareness of safety hazards at all times, and knowing what to do if something goes wrong will be key. Of course this is training you'd generally receive ahead of time, but be conscious of the fact that your work might involve more than just staring at a computer screen. This can be a good thing, of course, because it allows you to be more involved in the practical applications of automation.

What Kind of Education Is Needed to Work in Industrial Automation?

You could get into industrial automation with only an associate degree, but a higher degree may open more opportunities. A bachelor's degree could also help you if you decide to pursue even higher education in the field, such as a Ph.D.

If you're interested in industrial automation, check out ECPI University's Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology with a concentration in Mechatronics. This mechatronics program could take as little as 2.5 years to complete through our year-round schedule. Comprehensive courses give you excellent training in the practical, theoretical, and ethical aspects of the field. Our classes could give you that leg up you need to be among the best of the bunch when it comes time for companies to hire. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

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