Difference between Factory Automation and Process Automation
Factory automation is what we say an industrial automation. Industrial automation means all types of automation done in industry. Industrial automation is the complete automation of the entire process done an industry where there is least human intervention in process, apart from that the only job a human does in monitoring and controlling the whole automation via SCADA or DCS.
Process automation is a kind of factory automation because process industry is a kind of industry. Process industry is the one related with refineries, paper and pulp, petrochemical, etc. Because they have tendentiously more PID control processes than any other industry. This is why it’s called process automation.
There are conceptual differences between factory automation and process automation:
Factory automation contains
- Mainly focused on complete modular discrete control consisting of sequential, speed control, packaging & batch control.
- As compared to process automation, relatively faster response time is required as a part of factory automation.
- Typical actuators, magnetic valves, on/off drives/motors, limit/proximity switches etc. are used along with micro-controllers & modular PLCs as hardware for factory automation.
Process automation contains
- Continuous monitoring & control including analog & digital measurements.
- Handles hazardous/non-hazardous areas & selection of equipment's/instruments accordingly.
- Computational & calculative controls along with complex control algorithms.
- Involves open & closed control loops including PID/Cascade/Feed forward etc. including the main hardware elements such as sensors (various field sensing devices such as process temp., pressure, flow, level, vibration, switches etc.), final elements (control valves, On-Off valves, SOVs etc.) & Logic Solvers (process controllers such as DCS, PLCs, APCs).
- Broadly divided in two major parts i.e. process control/monitoring with relatively slower response time and safety instrumented system along with high class faster response time PLCs & SIL certified components.
Both factory automation and process automation are technologies within the field of industrial automation. Factory automation relates to making objects that are visible but need to be assembled, machined, packaged, filled, printed, or otherwise worked upon by machines. Process automation relates to products that are not usually visible, are fluid, and often are hazardous to humans. Process automation relates to things made by chemical, physical, or thermal processes. Somewhere in between are processes that make things that are visible but are not machined such as pulp & paper. Also, electric power generation is often considered to be a process automation application.