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Levels of System Automation

By Roger Sorg – Sales Engineer

When considering automation of an operation such as palletizing, case packing, machine tending or general material handling consider the levels of system automation required to achieve the desired outcome.

There are typically 4 levels of system automation


    1. Partial Automation Operation
      • Partially automated systems typically focus on
        • part of an operation that is consistent and repetitive such as case packing
        • requires an operator to man the system
          • loading raw parts and unloading finished parts
          • may require quality inspection
          • is likely when longer cycle times exist
    2. Semi-Automated System
      • Semi-automated systems typical include
        • multiple operations or tasks
        • a cycle time that allows multiple tasks to be accomplished by a single robot
        • palletizing of multiple product lines
        • may include dunnage handling by the robot
        • production rates that allow for occasional stoppage
          • adding dunnage such as pallets, tier sheets
          • remove palletized loads from the robot cell by an operator

Watch video to see an example of each level of system automation

    1. Full Automated System
      • Fully automated systems may include
        • multiple robots and safety zones
        • allows products such as bags or cases to enter the system
        • allows dunnage including pallets, tier sheets, top frames or caps to enter without stopping the system
        • allows finished pallet loads or packed cases to exit without stopping the system
        • may include accumulation conveyor on the infeed and outfeed to reduce the amount of interaction by operator
        • supporting equipment may be included such add checkweighers, inkjet printers, pallet dispensers, tier sheet dispensers, strappers, wrappers, stretchhooders and label printers and applicators
        • would include machine communication between all equipment
        • system operations can be maintained by a trained operator or high level maintenance technician


    1. Highly Automated System
      • Highly automated systems would include all the characteristics of the fully automated system
        • provisions for automatic changeover and setup
          • via the HMI utilizing servo adjustability
          • quick change devices for EOAT changes
          • automatic setup of other equipment via the HMI
          • may communicate with plant production systems
            • information is transferred from the production coordinator to the automated robotic system
              • finished output from the robot system is transferred back to the production system for inventory, production data, order completion
              • system operations can be maintained by a production manager from an office interface

If you are interested in evaluating the benefits of adding an automation system to your facility, contact Motion Controls Robotics using the robotic request for information form.

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