Automated Assembly – A Quick History

Automated Assembly – A Quick History
September 21, 2020 admin
Civil Engineering – What’s It All About

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You’ll have no doubt heard that saying time and time again. Amazingly, you’d be surprised at how many people actually still believe it too! It totally surprises us that loads of individuals believe that once a product has been made or a particular method of manufacturing has been decided on then that’s the only way to go. However, being set in your ways is not great when it comes to the world of civil engineering. Perth companies are moving forward each day in terms of technology.

 

There are some pretty awesome advances that are being made in the field of automation too. The end result of these being greatly improved efficiency and productivity. Add this to the fact that product quality is higher in general and that costs are minimised and you’ll agree that there are some real plus points in terms of savings in costs and labour.

 

In the following sections, we’ll take a look at automation and its history.

 

The History of Automation in Manufacturing

 

Perhaps the first real instance of automation can be found in the car industry. Way back in 1913, the Ford Motor Company brought in the assembly line to make car production smoother. In the years before this, single cars were built in an old factory by various unskilled and skilled workers. What this all basically means is that the assembly line can be thought of as one of the very first ever types of manufacturing industry automation.

 

It’s fair to say that Ford’s production rates hit new heights along with their profits. And, Ford made sure to look after their employees too, giving them a competitive and enviable new pay rate. In fact, Ford employees earned such a great wage that they could even buy one of the very same cars they produced which was previously totally unheard of in the industry.

 

Ford’s mass production and assembly line was the first of its kind in the world. Amazingly, the time taken to assemble the entire finished car was reduced from 12 hours to an incredible 1.5! Can you imagine how this totally changed everything in the world of car production? It must have seemed like the biggest breakthrough ever!

 

Fast Forward to the 1930s

 

Japan has always enjoyed an illustrious reputation for being at the forefront of technology. So, it comes as no surprise at all that the country was a leader in component development for use in industrial manufacturing automation. Back in the 1930s, a Japanese company developed an electrical timer that was unbelievably accurate. They also created the first protective relays and micro-switch which were all used straight away by various industries.

 

While this was all going on in Japan, the wider world was beginning to get excited about  automation. Consequently, there was lots of development and research happening. The Second World War period really stands out in terms of the automation that was being used in landing craft, fighter plans, tanks and warships. So many people and industries were beginning to see the real promise involved in automation.

 

Today’s Automation Components

 

At the present time, automation is proving vital to various fields such as industrial manufacturing and engineering. Perth providers are finding that innovative components are enabling them to produce custom pieces that are as intricate as they are reliable. Let’s take a look at some of these modern automation components.

 

Computers

 

Right across the board, computers control virtually every type of automation. Even as far back as the 1980s, these were used to control some aspects of manufacturing. Of course, today’s computers are far more sophisticated than their ‘80s counterparts. In fact, it’s computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) that leads the way in automation. CIM controls almost every aspect of creating certain components from the design to the machining and everything in between.

 

One significant use of computers in manufacturing has to be CNC (computer numerical control) machining. This is a process during which pre-programmed software dictates every movement of certain factory machinery and tools. When it comes to CNC machining, Perth industries tend to use it to control all sorts of complex machinery such as grinders, mills and lathes. What’s also interesting is that when you look at a CNC system, it may resemble a ‘normal’ set of computer components, however, the consoles and software programs used for this purpose distinguish it from every other type of computation.

 

Robots

 

Nowadays, robots have replaced a number of activities that were originally carried out by people. Amazingly, just one robot can do the work of as many as 10 workers! Robots are commonly found in the car industry where they’re used for spray painting and welding as well as for certain assembly work. Robots also work on mass produced printed circuit boards with astounding accuracy. They even test the circuits after they put them together before labelling and packaging them. Amazing!

 

Electronic Components

 

Electrical components are passive when they operate on AC power and include capacitors and resistors. Alternatively, these can be active components that include transistors and vacuum tubes used for amplification and that operate on DC power.

 

Printed Circuit Boards

 

A printed circuit board (also known as a PCB) is made from electronic components. You might not have realised it, but the vast majority of industrial manufacturing electrical components contain a PCB. PCBs are usually automatically assembled via robotics and the connections between the various components is by little pathways that are etched into copper foil.

 

As you can see, automation has moved forward considerably over the years. What began with incredibly basic automation in the form of solenoid valves, sensors and limit switches has moved on to today’s robots, computerisation, printed circuit boards and electronic components.

 

It all makes you wonder where we’ll be in terms of breakthroughs and innovations over the coming years. Advances are being made every single day and they’re so exciting to think about. From machines for assembling small components for the pharmaceutical and medical industries to much larger automation systems that handle metal castings for the car industry, there are sure to be some exciting new developments!