Welding technology has obtained
access virtually to every branch of manufacturing; to name a few bridges, ships,
rail road equipments, building constructions, boilers, pressure vessels, pipe
lines, automobiles, aircrafts, launch vehicles, and nuclear power plants. Especially
in India, welding technology needs constant upgrading, particularly in field of
industrial and power generation boilers, high voltage generation equipment and
transformers and in nuclear aero-space industry.
Computers have already entered the field of welding and the situation today is
that the welding engineer who has little or no computer skills will soon be hard-pressed
to meet the welding challenges of our technological times. In order for the computer
solution to be implemented, educational institutions cannot escape their share
Automation and robotics
are two closely related technologies. In an industrial context, we can define
automation as a technology that is concerned with the use of mechanical, electronics
and computer-based systems in the operation and control of production. Examples
of this technology include transfer lines, mechanized assembly machines, feed
back control systems, numerically controlled machine tools, and robots. Accordingly,
robotics is a form of industrial automation.
There are three broad classes of industrial automation: fixed automaton, programmable
automation, and flexible automation. Fixed automation is used when the volume
of production is very high and it is therefore appropriate to design specialized
equipment to process the product very efficiently and at high production rates.
A good example of fixed automation can be found in the automobile industry, where
highly integrated transfer lines consisting of several dozen work stations are
used to perform machining operations on engine and transmission components. The
economics of fixed automation are such that the cost of the special equipment
can be divided over a large number of units, and resulting unit cost are low relative
to alternative methods of production. The risk encountered with fixed automation
is this; since the initial investment cost is high, if the volume of production
turns out to be lower than anticipated, then the unit costs become greater than
anticipated. Another problem in fixed automation is that the equipment is specially
designed to produce the one product, and after that products life cycle is finished,
the equipment is likely to become obsolete. For products with short life cycle,
the use of fixed automation represents a big gamble.
Programmable automation is used when the volume of production is relatively low
and there are a variety of products to be made. In this case, the production equipment
is designed to be adaptable to variations in product configuration. This adaptability
feature is accomplished by operating the equipment under the control of "program"
of instructions which has been prepared especially for the given product.
program is read into the production equipment, and the equipment performs the
particular sequence of processing operations to make that product. In terms of
economics, the cost of programmable equipment can be spread over a large number
of products even though the products are different. Because of the programming
feature, and the resulting adaptability of the equipment, many different and unique
products can be made economically in small batches.
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