The Difference Between Hard and Soft Automation

welding machine

Choosing an automation system isn’t as simple as selecting the most cost-effective machine—production requirements determine whether you need hard or soft automation. Oxygen Service Company explains the difference between hard and soft automation solutions.

Fixed Automation Systems Vs Flexible Automation Systems

Fixed automation systems refer to a production system where machinery, robots, and industrial equipment performs singular tasks. Typically, fixed automation systems combine several simple operations to fulfill high-production needs by implementing a variety of equipment built to carry out one set of functions as part of an entire production process.

Flexible automation systems are highly adaptable and designed to change production lines seamlessly, accommodating a wide range of output products, parts, and components. Flexible automation systems that control machinery, robots, and equipment are operated by computerized systems and trained personnel who utilize computer coding or human-machine interfaces (HMIs).

The main difference between hard and soft automation is that hard automation requires physical changes to improve functionality while soft automation machines are programmed through a computer interface.

Diving Deeper: Fixed Automation Systems

Fixed automation systems are used in mass production and continuous flow systems. Hard automation operations outperform human output, producing higher speeds and efficiency to meet difficult production demands.

Manufacturers who benefit most from fixed automation systems are facilities that produce a singular, high-volume, low-variable part or component—that’s because each segment of a hard or fixed automation system is designed to perform a specific, repetitive task.

Integrating a fixed automation system into your production line means relying on a complex set of operations composed of several coordinated sequences. While fixed automation requires a significant amount of investment upfront, manufacturing facilities see ROI in a relatively short amount of time. Fixed automation systems are found in automated assembly processes, material handling, chemical manufacturing processes, paint and coating processes, material conveyor systems, and transfer lines.

Oxygen Service Company has the expertise to offer you guidance on how to select the best automation system for your business.

Diving Deeper: Flexible Automation Systems

Human operators issue instructions to multiple machine tools to connect to sophisticated material-handling systems in flexible automation systems. Flexible automation typically encompasses all aspects performed by robotic automation controlled by a central computer. With product design flexibility, soft automation allows manufacturers to create made-to-order designs for customizable products for low-to-medium production runs.

Flexible automation also reduces downtime, and changeover is accomplished through computer programming seamlessly. Flexible automation systems are the perfect solution for material handling, assembly, and robotic systems that can adjust and adapt to production demand requirements.

Benefits of Automation Systems

Whether you choose a flexible or fixed automation system, there are several benefits to integrating automation into your production process:

Labor

Automation creates a demand for service technician jobs required in factories, plants, and production facilities. Redundant jobs are eliminated and replaced with automation, creating opportunities for workforces to obtain and develop a competitive advantage.

Increases Profits

Implementing automation into your production process reduces human error, increases profit, and improves product quality. With decreased errors and more demand for material, the cost per part decreases by volume.

Increases Productivity

Automation significantly reduces production costs, increasing productivity. Manufacturing automation allows you to produce larger product volumes than a human workforce and increase profit margin.

Increases Productivity

Automation significantly reduces production costs, increasing productivity. Manufacturing automation allows you to produce larger product volumes than a human workforce and increase profit margin.

Boosts Product Quality

Programmable automation systems boost product quality. When a machine is programmed to perform a repetitive task, it completes the job with precision, accuracy, and repeatability without human error.

Improves Work Environment

The final benefit of automation is a better working environment for your employees. Automation improves your staff’s working conditions by decreasing their machine interaction, giving them a safer place to perform their daily responsibilities.

Providing Different Types of Automation System Solutions

Using robotic process automation to complete challenging tasks at your workplace has endless benefits. Oxygen Service Company provides you with a comprehensive line of robotic welding machines, automated material handling robots, automated cutting machines, and automatic robotic positioning systems.

Our robotic process automation systems are manufactured by some of the most prominent vendors in the industry, like ABB, FANUC, OTC Daihen, and ALM. If you need a quality robotic automation system to complete tasks that require excellent accuracy and precision, our automated solutions are effective and get the job done right the first time. Contact OSC today to learn more about our automation systems.