Instrumentation primarily means use of instruments for various tasks, these tasks fall into one of the three categories like measuring, monitoring and control. These instruments are built by instrumentation product manufacturers to measure, monitor or control actual physical properties like flow, temperature, level, distance, angle, or pressure. These physical properties can be as small as relatable to human beings or animals or as big as plant or industrial use.
For example; if we take temperature as a physical property and compare the types of instruments then a thermometer is an instrument to measure body temperature of animals or human beings and the actual physical size of the instrument is as big as a fountain pen; whereas the same physical property of temperature if required to be measured in an industrial use, the thermometer becomes a more complex instrument and the size may be as big as a laptop or cupboard, depending on its application.
Therefore, instrumentation is bifurcated as industrial and non-industrial. Industrial use of instrumentation is generally termed as instrumentation engineering. The technological advancements and need to better our products and their quality have led to many upgradation in the field of instrumentation over the last century; manual labor and work is replaced by machines which is commonly referred as automation of tasks. Instrumentation hence opens a new dimension of engineering which becomes automation.
Automation is further broken down to machine automation and process automation. Machine automation, as can clearly be identified in its nomenclature is making a machine automatic; which allows machine to makes its own decision, when to start, when to stop, when to control which physical parameter etc. A subset of machine automation is the actual process which the machine is supposed to follow.
For example: A pharmaceutical plant has many types of machinery that produce the medicines. The actual objective of a specific machine is to implement the formula and create pills as the outcome; this machine automation. The pressure at which to mix chemicals; the temperature at which the right result is obtained or the flow of chemicals within the machine is controlled, monitored and regulated as a process which is looked after by instruments made specifically for process automation like a scanner that acquires this data and captures it in legible format for the instrumentation engineers to read and interpret.
Instrumentation is an important aspect in any plant of manufacturing setup and all of them machines completing various processes to produce or manufacture something. And where there are machines and process there is a need to control the machines and the processes they perform and any discrepancy in the process may lead to the production of defective goods.
Shiv Kumar Pandey is a writer and marketing consultant for various companies including Masibus, one of the top industrial automation companies in India, headquartered in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.This author has published 3 articles so far.