Case studies of low cost automation in the manufacturing industry


Does anyone have any good case studies of low cost automation being applied in the manufacturing industry? The Tasmanian government has a grant scheme that allows eligible companies to access matched funding of up to $15,000 to pursue growth opportunities and we’d like our members to look at achieving efficiencies with products like Arduino and Raspberry Pi.


I used esp8266 to dot around a factory to monitor warehouse temperatures etc. That was a much cheaper way to measure something that was non-critical than any of the other options (without me having to trudge around downloading data off normal dataloggers anyway).

Other projects in a factory environment were mostly temporary. The Electric Imp was pretty neat because I could reliably update the program (options for esp8266 exist like OTA but I’ve found them unreliable), was very useful if it was in a difficult to access area. Or an arduino with an sd card to measure temperatures in a vacuum chamber etc.

I didn’t trust them to do any ‘proper’ automation, mostly because the cost benefit would have been wiped out if there was almost any downtime caused by a failure. The benefits were it was easier for me to deploy myself (rather than add to the maintenance staff to-do list), it was cheaper for temporary installations and I could link them easier over wifi (which we had site-wide for other reasons already) to log and check from my desk.


I used Delta PLC’s to automate a whisky distillery in port Melbourne. The control hardware was under $15k but the sensors and labour was more. My opinion is automation can be done cheap using arduino’s etc. But if you need something accurate, reliable and of a industry standard than leave the arduino in the draw and use OEM hardware, ABB, Honeywell, Schneider. NHP, Siemens and/or delta.

Also consider time. just say you want to use a couple of 4-20mA tempreture sensors for the PLC you plug it into the terminals and set your ladder logic then thats your solution … it works and is proven reliable.

When you pull your arduino, esp, raspberry pi, you have to layout or breadboard the hardware because your arduino only has a adc configured to detect voltages between 0-5, and not 0-24mA loops at 24vdc. so you most likely would have to use op-amps etc and do some circuit design. Well all of that costs more money and time. Your time, my time and everyone’s time costs money Development is not just about the cost of hardware, but the cost of doing business and in most cases in industry its best too buy off the shelf rather than design, develop and deploy custom hardware and code.