Fixed or Hard Automation
Fixed automation, also called hard automation, uses permanent equipment to create a fixed assembly process. It’s often used in environments that rely on standardized machinery to complete set tasks. This type of industrial automation can have a high barrier to entry and be difficult to change. It requires a significant upfront investment. However, in structured environments with high volume production, continuous workflows, and a long-term production plan, fixed automation can yield powerful benefits.
Programmable automation systems offer an approach to manufacturing products in batches through the ability to change machine configurations and operation sequences through computerized interfaces. They are a cost-effective alternative to fixed automation systems. These solutions are often used in production settings with a low production variety and high-volume settings, where a fixed system won't work. However, changes require extensive programming which must be factored into each production change.
Flexible or Soft Automation
Flexible or soft automation systems empower your team to enter codes into a computer-controlled manufacturing environment. Instructions at each production node can trigger things such as changing tools, loading components, or transferring end products to new machines with ease. In manufacturing settings that serve a range of customers with low-to-medium production volume, flexible automation can provide the benefits of automation with a higher degree of control to support fast-changing production models.