Process control and automation options for SMEs

In the 21st century, there continues to be many developments that can be utilised by small and medium sized businesses to make their operation more efficient. The one that’s arguably received the most media coverage is advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and how this can allow for greater process automation. However, many options for process control and automation have been around for years with proven effectiveness. Continue reading for advice on how SME businesses can incorporate these measures into their infrastructure, along with the potential benefits of doing so.


What’s involved in process control and automation?

Industrial automation and process control is now more accessible to SMEs than it has been in the past. This is largely due to advancements in technology making systems more ubiquitous. Nevertheless, the range of options for process control and automation must be considered by business leaders before they decide what’s best for their operation.

Some of the most common examples of process control and automation for manufacturer SMEs include:

  • Control panels: these instruments are intended for monitoring of various assets and processes within the factory. Control panel systems are often used to ensure machinery is functioning efficiently and to check when maintenance work is required.
  • Conveyor systems: typically consisting of a belt stretched over multiple pulleys, the system is designed to move products and components from one area of a factory to another. Conveyor belts can be adapted to fit within the factory layout design.
  • Multihead weighers: an important system for food production SMEs, a multihead weigher divides bulk quantities into smaller increments. This division can be set based on the software and machinery used by the business, thereby increasing the speed at which products pass through the process.
  • Pick and place systems: robotics offer a solution for SME manufacturers in competitive marketplaces. The FESS Group can help make sure your investment generates a return through our expert installation services.


How process control and automation can benefit SMEs

Findings published in the Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing state that SMEs who adopt a digital approach to process control and automation can overcome the following challenges: innovation, product time-to-market, and increasing process complexity. Although there are many different ways SME businesses can go about implementing process control and automation. The right option may be governed by priorities within certain industries, for instance there’s usually greater importance placed on process safety in pharmaceutical industry processes. The nature of your business operations will therefore have a big influence on why you are seeking automation and process control services.

Potential benefits of process control and automation systems

Automating specific processes that are time consuming helps save resources for your business. It may also help reduce errors and improve morale if these processes are particularly monotonous.

Having control over key processes provides a deeper insight into what work is being done and where. This can help you make better decisions regarding overall operations.

Automation reduces the risk of human error while improving the repeatability of the production line. Process control also serves as a way to ensure quality as it constantly checks for inefficiencies which might impact the final product.

Linking automated systems together can allow project data to be gathered more easily. This can then be used to update teams on the status of tasks and notify relevant parties of process changes automatically.

Need help implementing process control and automation?

As discussed here, there are many options for SMEs when it comes to automation and process control. At the FESS Group, it’s our job to advise businesses on the best way forward for your manufacturing business at any given time. We do this for our clients through our bespoke consultancy services. Our team consists of expert engineers, contractors, electricians, inspectors, and more to provide insights that are beneficial to your operation. Get in touch today to chat about the best path forward for your SME business.

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