Time to define what really Industrial Automation is!

Nowadays, industrial automation is necessary for any company aiming to remain competitive on the market, and especially if it want to grow.

So let’s analyze what automation means, the application and the Italian market.

Industrial Automation, meaning

First of all, it is fundamental to be aware that, being the subject so complex and continuously evolving, the current definition may change shortly, or develop.

Nevertheless, at today, automation can be defined as all the technologies necessary for the management and control of production processes. Therefore, it is a discipline, but also a corporate function.

In the case of industrial automation, various technologies are used, including mechanical, computer and electronic, to reduce human intervention in the management of production processes, but also at the level of information or energy use.

Therefore, the goal of automation is  to reduce (or eliminate) human intervention, but achieving greater efficiency and reliability, reducing lead times. It therefore seems clear why it is so widespread in various fields: it is in fact useful in all those operations where human intervention does not reach; both because it does not reach a precision more than millimetric, but also because they are often monotonous and repetitive tasks.

What is automation? It’s origins

The word “Automation” was first introduced by Ford Motor Company in 1947, indicating the to indicate the set of equipment installed for automatic handling in production lines.

Are you interested in studying the story of Ford assembly lines? Here you will find the best information (straight from Ford itself).

To date, industrial automation is no longer limited to production alone, but also to support organs, such as:

  • design,
  • organisation,
  • production management.

What therefore began as a manufacturing process automation to date includes all CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) systems, therefore intelligent machinery, connected with IoT optics and sensors that make the supply chain more efficient.

Which sectors mostly get the benefits of automation?

Despite what you may suppose, automation is not just related to 4.0 industry, but even to energy efficiency, smart building, security and e-mobility. 

You may want to read: E-scooters and new micromobility

In Industry 4.0, where there are most of the applications, is is immediately clear how far automation reached. Especially in manufacturing industry, which is one of the leading compartments in Italy.

Concerning the Smart Building, and constructions in general, it is immediately clear that it is fundamental to renew traditional housing; buildings require better living conditions, and especially they have to be safe and energy efficient.

Industrial automation in this sector is thus seen in all that goes to make up a building: from electrical and thermoregulation systems, but also to lighting and household appliances; For the most modern buildings also consider the distribution and storage of energy, security systems and home automation.

Are there similarities between robotics and Automation?

Given the complexity of both areas, they are often (wrongly) assimilated to a single category. However, there are similarities and differences and, above all, we need to understand that the two sectors always work in full synergy.

Similarities: 

  • in both sectors the physical world and the concrete impact generated by computer science/data analysis merge.
  • both need to create a mix of knowledge and multi-disciplinary technologies (computer, electronic, mechanical and automatic).

Differences:

  • Automation is the discipline that really guarantees the reliability, the efficiency, the repeatability of a solution.
  • Robotics is the discipline that allows the feasibility of a solution.

Industrial Automation in Italy

The last official data of the sector date back to the closing of 2018, and are provided by Anie Automation.

The industrial automation sector in Italy has been following for some years (since 2013) a positive trend of continuous growth, both in the area of manufacturing automation and process.

The main export markets for Italy are Germany, France and Spain, which account for almost 30% of total exports. In general, the export market grows annually at an average rate of 4%, with North America and West Asia as potential new markets.

Anie Automazione

In this context Anie Automation is the reference association for companies specialized in process automation, software, remote control… The turnover of its member companies is over EUR 4 billion.

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