How Home and Factory Automation Systems Can Save Energy in the Long Run

How Home and Factory Automation Systems Can Save Energy in the Long Run

Image by Nick Mccarthy via Flickr

The robotic revolution has been alive and well since the 1970’s, and you didn’t even notice –and today it is in full swing in homes and businesses worldwide. So much for the robopacalypse, to say the least.

The truth about robotics is that they arrived long ago; the ancestors of today’s robots arrived in the form of systems automation as far back as the mass production of the Model T by Ford Motor Company. That was when the soul of today’s robotics was born; modern robotics originated in automation process, even if those processes were carried out by people.

Today that soul manifests itself through incredibly intuitive and easy-to-use automation tools which rely much less on human touch points, limbs of an all-encompassing body.

However this article is not about robotics so much as it is the stuff of robot brains and the actions they can facilitate. Let’s talk automation!

How Automation Will Save Energy – Yours and the Planet’s

So first let’s look at how automation will make your life a whole lot easier, save energy, and generally blow your mind and even make the stuff you purchase regularly come at a lower price. Let’s look at the “How”.

Home Automation Saves Money on Your Energy Bill

I figured I’d cover home automation systems first because –pun, wait for it— it hits home with everyone.

Imagine you walk into your home, flip a switch, and suddenly everything is as you like it, just like that scene in Demolition Man when Stallone walks into the apartment he was given after waking from cryogenic sleep in the future. Or like those old AT&T “You Will” ads directed by the guy who made the only good Alien movies.

I’m dating myself now but this amazing feat is accomplished by “scenes” which are all too easy to program. And since automation like this relies heavily on repeaters in the “internet of things”, one scene you program can affect everything from lighting to temperature control. Done with the TV? Forget the Clapper –hit a button and the TV, PVR, sound system turn off and the curtains roll up. And oh, you can already find this stuff at Walmart.

According to the CEO of Insteon, Gartner estimates the average household will have over 500 appliances, fixtures, and devices linked to these non-centralized systems. Impressive by any measure. How was this overlooked on Back to the Future Day?

Throw in a mobile app, some GPS, and this stuff can be automated with context when you enter the room or leave it. 5pm on a Thursday? Your home might be familiar with your love of reality TV and a warm bath. Leave the house and it shuts it all down. 4 km from home? Your home automation kit could activate the central air, leaving it off all day otherwise.

This isn’t fantasy, it’s already here.

Factory Automation Systems

Factory automation systems are a much more advanced process than your average home automation, however the same rules apply.

Simply put, FAS is all about machine coordination by creating a data stream between machines and mapping processes which help them speak to each other in a useful way. Each machine is then able to track and act upon opportunities for further efficiency which can manifest itself through lower energy consumption, monitoring ERP software to place orders, track inventory, or knowing when to manufacture more goods. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

There is a lot of data that can be observed and analyzed if we record and share it in a useable way among devices linked to an internet of things. That data is typically recorded through a diverse range of sensors and machine vision, which is then calculated before it shares the useful bits with other devices.

Saving a little time or energy on a repeated task pays big dividends.

In Conclusion

Factory automation systems (FAS) and home automation systems (HAS) are equally compelling cost elimination tools because even a 1% gain in efficiency will reduce operating costs by an order of magnitude which can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars –even in the millions— as they are widely adopted over a period of time. A little savings on a daily basis will go a long way annually.

What do you think? Have you tried out any of these automation technologies yourself? If so, we’d love to hear your story in the comments.

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