Industrial Automation, Test Automation or Robotic Process Automation – ever heard about these terms? Are robotics and automation the same? If not, then what’s the difference? This write-up will get all your queries cleared once and for all.
Coming from a non-tech background, automation and robotics might sound like the same thing, but ‘NO’, they are different.
So, what is automation and what is robotics?
Automation – When one uses computer software or physical machines and other technologies to accomplish tasks that could have been conducted by humans is automation. There are different types of automation ranging from the simple ones to complex types. Automation can be divided into 2 types – Industrial Automation and Software Automation.
The main advantage is that automation ensures a predictable and stable production process that can be tailored specifically to perform the process most effectively.
Robotics – It’s a branch of technology that incorporates the process of creating, designing and utilizing robots to perform a task. An industrial robot is a standard machine that is controlled by an internal or external computer to perform complex series of movements automatically. Equipped with audio, visual and tactile sensors, there is a wide range of robots that are enabled by a pre-determined program to perform a wide range of activities. Many branches of robotics are not linked with automation and function smoothly.
Advantage of Robotics
These robots substitute humans in hazardous environments like high-temperature zones, radioactive environments and so on. These robots are designed by an automated system to carry out multiple tasks automatically with numerous variables.
Automation VS Robotics – What You Need!
The functionalities are different and yet you need to know what will work for you and what won’t. Everything depends on your business structure and the needs of your organization.
To know what works for you and what doesn’t, you need to know a few things about your work process.
Do your employees engage in repetitive tasks that require minimal logic and thinking? If yes, then these monotonous tasks can be taken care of by automation. Software automation is great for performing virtual tasks. However, for physical and laborious tasks, robotics is the answer. Again, a robot can perform physical tasks, but it needs to be programmed to ensure the repetitive hazardous physical task is performed smoothly.
Obviously, there are overlapping functions between automation and robotics. Robots have already come into the world and started automating physical tasks like manufacturing. Many kinds of automation have no connection with physical robots. Similarly, many branches of robotics have no connection with automation.
Automation in Detail
Many industries are interested in implementing automation to reduce labour costs and increase efficiency without compromising on time. As stated earlier, there are 2 kinds of automation – Software Automation and Industrial Automation.
A computer tool programmed to perform repetitive tasks following certain logical instructions like humans is Software Automation. GUI test automation is a great way of testing computer programs.
Other types of software automation are:
Business Process Automation (BPA)
Tech-enabled automation for business processes that are used for digital transformation and improving service quality to save costs. Restructuring human resources, integrating applications and utilizing software apps for the business processes is what BPA stands does.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
programs exactly the same way as a human operator. Although not as efficient and intelligent as humans, but they work quite smoothly with good ROI and seamlessly integrating into existing business processes.
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)
IPA is an extension of RPA using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work like humans and making decisions based on sentiment, logic and past activities. This software bot is more intelligent than static RPA.
When automation and robotics come together – then it’s called Industrial Automation. It’s all about controlling and handling the physical processes. This kind of automation involves control systems and physical machinery to automate the tasks within the processes. Amazon is a perfect example. There are various machines used for industrial automation like CNC machines are common when it comes to manufacturing. Robots are only one kind of such a machine.
Robotics in Detail
Robots are programmable machines that are can perform a series of actions semi-autonomously or autonomously. With actuators and sensors, robots interact with the physical world and being reprogrammable they are more flexible than other machines.
In industrial automation, robots are used in a flexible way to automate tasks. AI enables robots to take in instructions from humans and function seamlessly.
All Robots are NOT Automated
Yes, some robots are autonomous, but not used in automation. For example, a toy line-following robot functions autonomously, but cannot be used in automation. It’s not automation because it’s not performing any specific task. It becomes automation when the line-following robot transport medicines around the hospital and does a specific job.
Robotics VS Automation – Choosing the Best
If you are looking for investing in automation for your business, then decide based on the following factors:
What process do you wish to automate?
For virtual tasks go for Software Automation.
For physical tasks, opt for industrial automation.
Determine if your physical tasks can be performed by a robot, if so, then robotics is the solution. If not, then look into industrial automation and get going.
Have further questions? Then, let’s start talking and see what works for your business.