What is automation and factory control? Can you use time switches to automate your factory to manage and monitor the manufacturing processes with reduced human interaction? There is no doubt that factory owners and managers are always looking for ways to minimise the cost of the goods that are manufactured in their factories.
What about safety hazards that are inherent in plants that work with bulky items or raw materials that need heat as part of their manufacturing procedures? Will industrial grade time switches reduce the proximity and time that factory workers need to work near scorching ovens?
Automation control and time switches
Before we look at answering some of the above questions, let’s look at the definition of automation control as well as the definition of a time switch:
According to Wikipedia, Automation control is defined as the “use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilisation of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention.”
From this definition, we can see that automation control is automatic or robotic control in manufacturing processes that are either deemed too dangerous or too expensive for human intervention.
Factory automation is automation control taken one step further. In simple terms, it is where automation or robotic control is utilised to drive the whole manufacturing process with very little human intervention. Furthermore, the reasons for factory control are similar to the reasons for automated control. In other words, it is either too expensive or too dangerous to have workers managing and coordinating the manufacturing process.
A time switch typically is used for commercial- or industrial-grade switches that control things like HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) equipment, traffic lighting, commercial water heaters, and large pumps. Time switches often have detailed programming functions and may be rated for 30 or more amps and 120 or 240 volts of electricity.
In other words, a time switch is the electrical component that controls factory machinery; ergo, which machine must start and when it starts. When the machine has finished its process, the time switch shuts it down.
Final words: A practical example
For example, let’s assume that you run a fabric dyeing concern, and your dyeing process is currently manually driven. However, you would like to automate the process. In simple terms, what you would need to do is to install time switches on all of your machinery, and these switches need to be programmed to start and stop each machine at a particular time.
Ergo, the first machine in the process (the washing machine) will kick the dye run off. When the fabric has been washed, it needs to move to the bleacher. Therefore, the first time switch will switch the washing machine one and off, and the second time switch will only switch the bleacher on when the washing machine has been turned off. And so on.. eventually you will get to the end of the dyeing process with very little manual intervention.