Factory Automation is a HUGE Field, covering a wide range of technologies.You may be looking to automate an individual process, or to automate your whole factory.
Your desire may be very simple. For example - part marking or more complex- like assembly automation equipment.
I have spent a lifetime in the business of automation. It is what I know best. Starting as a apprentice draftsmen, to machine designing, to founding and running Systems Integration companies. I have done it all! When Should You Consider Using Factory Automation? There is no simple answer but you should always look at what is possible to make your processes more efficient. - Some examples may be: A process has become very repetitive and is now holding up or slowing down production. If parts are being assembled, by hand, and all the parts are IDENTICAL, then this could well be a candidate for assembly automation equipment. Maybe your sales have increased to the point that manually completing a task, in your factory, has become too expensive or not cost effective. (Robots may come in handy here). Or possibly you are finding that as you increase production, and add people, reject rates are also rising and eating away at the profitability of the process. Now we are getting to the heart of question - COST!
The only reason for automating an existing process, is that it makes sense, financially, to do so.
Please don't fall into the trap of automating because it looks good, or is "sexy", or impressive.
Factory automation, especially robots, can be all of these, but the bottom line is, that it must make financial sense and show a reasonable return on investment.
If you are new to automation, then please make your first project a simple one, that is reasonably sure of success - leave the more complex ones, until later, when you have a higher confidence level and know more about theFACTORY AUTOMATION possibilities. So-how do you start the process? If the project is likely to be a fairly large one,both financially and equipment wise, then consider approaching a System Integrator. If you are considering a simpler start,then it may be possible to find an equipment supplier. A third alternative is to hire an automation consultant who can help in selecting an integrator or machine supplier and/or researching the field, for your particular project.