When a customer calls us for information regarding automated assembly systems, they frequently ask us what the difference between hard, soft, and programmable automation is. Simply put, each type of automation is designed to give added benefits to its user. Considering that automated systems are used by a wide array of different industries, it is imperative that they can function in varied ways. This article will try to clarify the differences between programmable, soft, and hard automation. Leak testing machines can be added to all systems.
Hard automation is explicitly referring to the use of specialized equipment to create a fixed process for assembly. Hard automation systems have fixed sequences, which cannot be altered. The process breaks downs construction into simple steps that usually go in a linear or rotational motion (the two can be combined). Fixed systems offer the lowest production cost for each unit, and it also has the fastest production time.
Programmable automation can easily change the sequence of operations (to accommodate altered product configurations). Operations are controlled by a set of instruction codes that control the program. These systems are suitable for batch production.
Soft automation is considered an extension of the programmable variant. Soft automation, which is also called flexible automation, is easily able to produce different varieties of parts with only a minor loss of time for changeovers. It is the only system that offers continuous production of making varied products.