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At the recently held WIN India 2016 in Mumbai, automation skilling modules were offered with the objective of imparting confidence through hands-on sessions

Image: AIA

Education & Training Emerging industry skills

Mar 28, 2017

Automation skills that are in demand for the ‘Make in India’ mission need to be taken to grassroots and small industry clusters. Realising this, AIA (Automation Industry Association), in partnership with Hannover Milano Fairs India, had set up an exclusive training zone with hands-on sessions, during WIN India 2016, Mumbai. A read on...

Factories of the future shall draw innovations and knowledge from multiple disciplines of science and engineering, thereby, creating a demand of multifaceted professionals. At the recently held WIN India 2016 in Mumbai, automation skilling modules were offered with the objective of imparting confidence through hands-on sessions. Facilitators were drawn from different companies, bringing in advanced automation technologies. At every training booth, there were industry-standard, hardware and software components, configured for demonstration of the concept and the participant exercises. Personnel from maintenance / projects / utilities / safety / machine design / production systems design / quality management - participated in the training in their chosen domains and did small experiments with their own hands. Eight important skills in automation for integrated operations were covered.

Automation system engineering

Efficiency of a machine or processes in any industry increases exponentially through automation. Essentially an automation system engineer should develop the complete skill-set with which he/she can address different user requirements. The key to successful deployment of automation lies in the ability to deal with the interplay of several parts, such as sensors, PLCs, DCS, control panels, HMI, robotics, DCS, SCADA, motors, pneumatics, hydraulics, MCCs, motion control, data collection, vision, besides other technical skills related to programming, planning, documentation, erection and commissioning. Engineers who follow standards of acceptance and best practices not only raise the bar for accountability across the integrator community, but safeguard the user industry as a whole.

Energy management

The experience of industries is that monitoring, targeting and reporting (MT&R) alone can lead to significant energy reductions. Energy information management is going to become an integrated component of any effective energy management strategy and in the development of control mechanisms for production-floor management. The actual records of implementation need to be closely watched and monitored. If some problems arise, or some variance between the planned figure and the actual record is observed, then necessary actions are to be taken immediately. The modern approach to energy-data collection is to fit interval-metering systems that automatically measure and record energy consumption at short, regular intervals such as every 15 minutes or half-hour. Detailed interval energy consumption data makes it possible to see patterns of energy waste that it would be impossible to see otherwise.

Industrial networking

As industry becomes very intimate with the operation, maintenance and management of automation, when these elements of work converge, they exponentially increase production agility and innovation. This convergence is fuelled by network- and connectivity-centric technologies that break down traditional walls and eliminate silos. Increasingly sophisticated integration and collaboration is establishing an intelligent manufacturing ecosystem that extends from the production floor to the top floor. Ultimately, and most important, the convergence revolution is protecting and maximising manufacturing output. Engineers are looking at multiple ‘intelligent manufacturing’ disciplines merging with each other in a seamless, barrier-free communication and production environment that enables operators to produce more efficiently, remove costs, and optimise an increasingly lean workforce.

Integrated robotics

Robotics is a multidisciplinary area which integrates intelligent control, communications, computer vision, mechatronics, sensor fusion, design and many other aspects on a single platform for a better service. Robotics technicians are employed either by the manufacturers and distributors of robots or by the robot users and are often responsible for the initial installation of the robot. They may then establish an in-house maintenance and repair program. If employed by the robot manufacturer or distributor, maintenance technicians usually respond to service calls. Members of the robotics team work closely with engineers and other technical workers. Robotics technicians who are trained in computer programming sometimes perform low-, mid-, and even high-level programming and reprogramming of the robots. In many cases, the robotics technician acts as the liaison between robotics engineers and the customers who purchase the machines.

Precision motion control

‘Positioning’ refers to controlling a moving body, such as a workpiece or tool at a designated speed, and accurately stopping it at the target position. At first glance, a filling application involving the transport of a liquid product into a solid vessel may seem simple to the untrained eye. But what few people realise is the high accuracy and continuous feed rates required for such high precision and high speed applications. In fact, the highly complex requirements of transporting the bottles, inserting the filling nozzle, controlling the flow rate of the liquid product, requires a high precision motion controller to handle the continuous operations at breath-taking speeds. Therefore, finding the right automation engineer is the challenge of most machine builders and end users. We have to provide that skill in as simple and cost effective a manner as possible.

Machinery safety

Safety circuits are encountered in almost every area of mechanical engineering; usually the number of safety functions is quite manageable. However, increasing efforts are being made to integrate diagnostic information into control concepts as well as overall concepts. That’s why, in future, safety devices with communications interfaces will be more prevalent in plant and machinery. To use these devices successfully, what’s generally needed is basic electrical knowledge and some awareness of the current standards.

  • Safety: Safety is the freedom from unacceptable risk.

  • Risk: A risk is the combination of the probability of a harm occurring and the severity of that harm

  • Harm: A harm is a physical injury or damage to health caused by a hazardous situation

Process simulation

Process simulation is a discipline that uses mathematical models as basis for analysis, prediction, testing, and detection of a process behaviour. Process simulation helps to increase the level of knowledge for a particular process – the process may actually exist in reality or be an imagined process. Process simulation is relevant in almost all segments of chemical industry, including those that are unorganised or in conceptual stage of automation. The challenges of this industry for implementing automation are: Fixing control philosophy; determining response of control system to process uncertainty; unorganised way of production methods; Changes in process and chemical components.

Quality management

In industrial production, the quality of an item is often inspected visually after the manufacturing process is finished. If this is done by humans, it takes a long time which makes it expensive. The trend in the industry is to automate the visual quality inspection. Common vision system applications include quality assurance, sorting, material handling, robot guidance, and optical gauging. This reduces material waste, product cost, and maximises throughput. Quality management further reduces end-line defects; saves time and efforts of final inspection; helps to fix the problems at the outset, and prevents common mistakes being made repeatedly; helps to ensure quality of the products of a production line.

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  • Robotics is a multidisciplinary area which integrates intelligent control, communications, computer vision, mechatronics, sensor fusion, design and many other aspects on a single platform for a better service

    Image: AIA

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