An automation engineer sets the automation of a process. He or she must understand the process and its needs to select the appropriate instruments to monitor and control all the necessary variables.
This work includes choosing and programming a controller. At this stage, you have protocols, the languages spoken between instruments and PLC. Four main protocols cover most process automation applications – analog, HART, PROFIBUS PA, and FOUNDATION Fieldbus. More have begun to take hold, like EtherNet/IP, but we can talk about those in another article.
And let’s not forget the actuators, connected to the controller like the sensors but taking output from the controller instead of sending input. Got it so far?
Now you have the whole system connected and communicating. However, to monitor everything you also need a Human Machine Interface (HMI). And guess who develops it? You got it, the automation engineer. Basically, the HMI provides a graphic depiction of your system, showing all the variables of your process in real time. Also, the HMI will show warnings if something has gone awry.
Courtesy of Automation Globes
We call this system SCADA, which means supervisory control and data acquisition. So, what does an automation engineer do? Develop SCADA systems. See? Piece of cake.
And while the above covers process automation, the same idea goes for other areas, like smart homes. You’ll have devices to monitor and control temperature, light, volume, or other variables. As I said earlier, you can use a Raspberry Pi as your controller or another microprocessor. You also have actuators, mostly relays here. And last but not least, you need an HMI to check the temperature of your bedroom, the lights in your bathroom, or the volume of your sound system. Same idea.
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