Automation has made human work easier and much lesser. This evolution has reduced the stress in the workplace when the tasks become tedious and repetitive. The technology is virtually in great demand throughout all the verticals and niches, despite being common in domains such as Manufacturing, Utilities, Transportation, and Security.
For instance, manufacturing plants use a certain automated process via robotic assembly lines. They use human work only to define and supervise the processes and accumulate various components by machines, which convert the raw materials into finished goods.
The impact of automation in the Technology domain has dynamically increased in software, hardware, and machine layers. Implementing new Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies have advanced the evolution in this field.
Meanwhile, in the IT domain, a software script could test a product and hence create a report. You could find a great range of software tools that generate code for the application. All you need to do is configure the tool and define the process.
Applications with enhanced Business Intelligence (BI) would be another form of high-quality automation. While other industries have automation resulting in better productivity over the last decades, hence saving time and money.
What is Automation?
Automation is making a device, mechanism, or program perform automatically.
Automation is about creating and applying technology to observe and control the development and delivery of products and services.
Automation has unique features helpful for almost all industries:
- Manufacturing: food, medicines, chemical, petroleum, pulp & paper
- Transportation: automobile, aircraft, and rail
- Utilities: water, oil & gas, electricity, and telecommunication
- Facilities: Safety & Security, Environmental Management, Energy conservation, and other building automation
Automation covers a wide range of technologies comprising robotics and expert mechanisms, data transmission & communications, cybersecurity, sensors, wireless applications, test measurement, etc.
Types of Automation:
- Hard Automation (Fixed Automation): This refers to using a specialized instrument for automating a fixed series of assembly & processing activities. The operations within the series for this automation type are simple, so there is plain linear and rotational motion. In certain cases, the motion methods could be combined. It is difficult to bring about changes in product design using Hard automation.
- Programmable Automation or flexible automation: This automation type is developed with the potential to alter the operation series, accommodating various product configurations. The operation series is controlled by a process, based mainly on its instructions coded into the system.
- Soft Automation or flexible automation: This automation extends Programmable Automation. These flexible automation systems can create a wide range of parts in lesser time during transformation. It is the same for the time consumed in production when users reprogram the systems and change the physical setup.
Automation in IoT (Internet of Things):
In the next decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) would transform completely. Everything would be interconnected. Research stated that approximately 50 billion devices became IoT, connected in 2020.
The vital influence for automation IoT is to minimize the operating expenses, as the automation devices and sensors become Internet-enabled devices. The next big step is productivity, with major benefits drawn from the retrieval and refinement of previously unimaginable amounts of data. The new Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) software has brought together the production-related data from various sources for reporting, analyzing, visualizing summaries, and passing on data between enterprise-level and plant-floor systems.
Ever since the introduction of the term Internet of Things (IoT) in 1999, there has been chaos around, and the effect on everyone’s personal and business lives. From how people shop and travel, to the monitoring and managing of the inventory by the producers, to tracking the livestock by the farmers, IoT has tremendously transformed many lives in different areas, from an unimaginary vision to an inevitable reality.
How Automation Connects the IoT devices:
IoT has various uses, although it is based on the vital technologies and elements to connect the devices to the Internet:
- Sensors that collect data from the terrain for the IoT system and processing it
- Connection & Identification from a device to the IoT system via IP address
- Actuators to allow the devices to react depending on data from own sensors and network evaluation
- Gateway to connect the data from various devices to reach the Cloud. The IoT gateway decodes the protocols of the devices into a default protocol and extracts the irrelevant data from the devices.
- Cloud, where the data from the IoT devices is accumulated and processed by the software
- UI (User Interface), from where users extract data from the devices to make the required commands to be executed by the devices
Home Automation or Domotics is about creating automation for a home- Smart Home or a Smart House. This automation system monitors and controls elements such as lighting, climate, entertainment equipment. It also comprises security elements such as Access control and alarm systems. When these devices are connected, they become a vital component of IoT (Internet of Things).
The Home Automation system connects the IoT devices to a gateway or a hub. The UI or User Interface uses the wall-mounted consoles, tablet PC or desktop computers, mobile application, or a Web panel which would be accessed externally via the Internet.
This automation system is highly efficient in sharing data among family members or trustworthy people for security, leading to energy-conserving techniques with a positive impact in the future.
Home Automation allows you to access the control devices at home, from a mobile device located anywhere in the world. We use this automation system for remote devices such as Thermostats and sprinkler structures. However, Home automation would precisely describe homes with items such as lights, appliances, electrical outlets, heaters, cooling equipment connected to a remotely controllable network.
How Does IoT-based Home Automation System Work:
Home Automation systems based on IoT provide greater flexibility, compared to the wired systems, as there are more advantages such as Ease of use, faster and easier installation, no complexity when running through wires, fewer electrical connections, quickly detecting and prompting the faults easier mobility.
The IoT-based Home Automation system comprises servers and sensors. The servers are remotely on the Internet, enabling you to manage and compute the data without using personal computers. The internet-based servers are configured to manage and observe multiple sensors established at a specific location.
Here is the working of various smart devices which are clubbed to form The Home Automation System.
- Controller- The Brain: The controller or the hub is the inevitable part of the Home Automation system, whether it is a single or multiple sensor connection at home. This controller is also called a Gateway, connected to the home router via an Ethernet cable. Most IoT-based sensors transfer and accept commands via the hub. This hub then receives the data or transmits it to a Cloud network found on the Internet. With this architecture, you can communicate with the hub even from far-flung locations via your smartphone. You would only require a robust internet connection at the hub and a reliable data package on your smartphone, enabling you to connect to the Cloud network.
- Smart Devices- The Sense Organs: The IoT-based Home automation comprises various smart devices for different applications in lighting, security, entertainment, etc. These devices are merged over a common network created by the gateway and connected to a complex network. This shows that you would have more flexibility to operate a specific sensor-oriented, with the action of another.
Hence the sensors in a common network could perform a Cross-talk through the Controller unit. In the figure, the smart sensors installed in this automation system play the role of sensor hubs.
These are the signal repeaters of security, between hub installation space and the sensors in a distant location. For those at long distances, the sensor hubs play a vital role in easing the transfer of signals to the sensors far from the controller, yet closer to the hub. The most commonly used sensor hubs in this automation system are Smart Plugs.
- Wireless Connectivity: Internal Communication: The most commonly used wireless communication protocols are ZigBee, Z-Wave & Wi-Fi. The ZigBee & Z-Wave controllers have network ID distributed across other sensors in the network. Based on the shortest path available, the signal from the hub travels directly to the target sensors or via the signal trips. If one sensor in the path is busy, the signal detects another path in the network to reach the destination. You may note that sensors with different IDs would not communicate with each other in the same network.
This is a technology process deployed to manage different traits of a building- lights, temperature, window blindfolds, audio, video, etc. Instead of managing each component separately, Commercial Automation merges them into a single and easily managed system.
Impact of IoT on Commercial Automation:
There are significant advantages to consumer-based IoT products. However, you might not have known that Commercial IoT has certain benefits. The IoT could effectively influence the business and enhance your customer experience!
Certain applications of IoT would make you feel insignificant when compared to others. People have been passing each other for a couple of years without the help of internet-integrated equipment.
However, Commercial IoT is unique. It’s quite different from the consumer IoT, thus coming out with various challenges and a unique set of advantages and prospects.
Advantages of Commercial IoT with Automation:
- Making Buildings more efficient: Enhancing and automating building consistency, comprising HVAC and lighting, is one of the initial and most captivating steps a company could make to utilize the benefit of commercial IoT. Internet-integrated company framework could extract a part of consumer IoT playbook by framing distinct profiles for each part of the building, based on the attributes and choices of the people occupying it.
- Bringing Intelligence To Supply Chain & Asset Management: Supply Chain has gone beyond evaluating arrival time for the shipment of raw materials and other required goods. We are grateful for the advancements in the sensors and certain scanning technologies, that enable the companies to perform continuous cycle counts, with the products issued in the assembly line using tracking tags, for instance- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which include vehicles and other resources, for instance- GPS. Passive RFID enhances inventory and asset management technologies such as Barcodes, as they need less human interference. You could have any kinds of products or assets cross the loading docks, such as delivery vehicles, furniture, or heavy instrument. It is easier to track them in real-time from destination to source.
- Improving Customer Insights and Enhancing Conversion: Sensors and placement guides in retail businesses could result in priceless appreciations for the company, and simultaneously making your lives easier. Meanwhile, On the consumer line of things, location-oriented technologies provide opportunities such as:
- Geo fencing delivering personalized suggestions and discounts when you appear at a store
- Location guides provide directions and help you navigate to the product or area you desire
- Enhancing Safety Adherence & Enabling Real-Time Decisions: Commercial IoT could be a great support in compliance and safety of the customer. For companies selling perishable products, either retail or a supply chain company promising safe delivery- the FDA ensures protocols for temperature parameters and the maximum time exceeded by the products. Commercial IoT provides certain tools in the form of remote temperature analysis and Cloud connectivity for instant data trackings.
- Enriching Workplace safety & Access Management: IoT has various ways to enhance safety at the workplace:
- Resources with sensors alert the maintenance staff to be proactive about the threatening failures of parts to overcome injuries. Technologies connected grant or limit access to the parts based on the authorization to the employees.
- Access management could be a major cybersecurity issue. Most companies take the uninterrupted security of the data channels for granted, which is a mistake, as the average data violation could cost a lot for a small business for every incident.
- Having IoT dominating automated security gates and doors, employees using wearables, the building’s security system identifies the employees’ approach and unlocks doors to facilities of places with high risk and locking them, or grants and limits the rights to operate specific machinery.
Advantages of Home Automation
We assess the advantages of Home Automation based on aspects such as Savings, Safety, Convenience, and Control. There are consumers facilitating Home automation for comfort and peace of mind.
Let us take a detailed look at the major advantages:
- Savings: Smart devices and light bulbs help you save energy, minimize utility costs. Certain home automation technologies observe the usage of water, thus helping you restrain excessive water bills.
- Safety: Most technologies under Home Automation belong to Home security. Customers purchase devices as they wish their homes to be safer and secure. Automated lighting is a threat to burglars, and motion sensors enable you to enter doors cross hallways late at night. Security cameras provide advantages, either through remote observation of package deliveries, or real-time video of residents or strange visitors.
- Convenience: Since the Home automation technology executes routine tasks automatically, you could experience impressive convenience. Most smart gadgets complement each other, and various triggers could be set between devices to automate standard home systems.
- Control: As a consumer, you could choose smart home devices with enhanced control functions. With the Home Automation technology, you would always know what is happening around your home.
- Comfort: You could use smart technology to record different shows or even play music across your home. Devices connected enable you to develop a comfortable ambiance, they also offer intelligent and dynamic lighting, sound, and temperature, enabling you to create a delightful environment.
Advantages of Commercial Automation
The primary goal is to upgrade the technology, certain elements in a room which are not a “technology”, such as lights and shades, so your company could focus on relevant aspects.
Here are the key benefits:
- Less time struggling with troublesome technology: The system is set in a way that you need not refer to the menu frequently, trying to get the laptop connected to the projector. Instead, you could directly go to the meetings.
- Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Have you left the lights on in the conference room? Has the projector bulb burned out because the projector was not powered down? Do your employees close the window shades while leaving, to avoid warming up by the solar heat, and reducing the HVAC bills?
With many aspects to focus on, it is not surprising that such issues occur often. However, the amazing part of Commercial Automation is that your company and the employees do not have to worry about it. The smart sensors observe aspects such as occupancy or room temperature, thus adapting automatically to keep the business running smoothly.
- Enriched Ambiance: For businesses holding meetings with potential customers, board members; or shareholders with technology blending optimally and working flawlessly always could be goal-oriented, representing the business positively. The way the system transforms the room with a single button or verbal instruction is not just good, but absolutely magnificent.
Home and commercial automation complement each other and they have their own benefits, especially with a blend of IoT. These automation systems with IoT are going to dominate our daily lives at home and in business.