Technologies Used in Industrial Automation

The industrial automation technologies include programmable logic controllers (PLCs), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), UL 508 Panels, Human-Machine Interfaces, servers, sensors, variable frequency drives (VFD), Distributed Control Systems (DCS), and Remote Terminal Units (RTU).

Are you trying to understand industrial automation? Perhaps you’re an expanding business in central California, considering the pros and cons of automation for the first time. Maybe your system is already automated, but it needs maintenance or improvement.

Keep reading to learn about the technologies used in automation today from Access Industrial Automation.

For a more basic overview of manufacturing automation, read more in What Does Manufacturing Automation Mean?

Technology Components of Industrial Automation

Technology components in industrial automation are constantly improving for greater efficiency and less waste. Even though many of the hardware components have been around for a long time, like programmable logic controllers (PLC)s, their sophistication keeps progressing.

We’ll briefly explain more about major technologies used in industrial automation and manufacturing. We regularly include updates to our blog where we discuss these technologies further.

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)s

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)s are hardware components that are programmed to automate many of the tasks involved in automation. Safety PLCs are programmed to initiate safe shutdown measures when conditions indicate a potential danger.

Rockwell Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)

Rockwell is a company that makes Allen-Bradley brand Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)s. They have some advantages and disadvantages when compared to PLCs created by Siemens. Ask an expert today about what type of PLC is best suited to your needs.

Access Industrial Automation is familiar with Rockwell PLCs including

  • ControlLogix
  • SLC500
  • PLC5

Siemens Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)

Siemens manufactures high-quality Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). PLCs made by Siemens have unique benefits and drawbacks when compared to Rockwell PLCs. Access Industrial Automation offer programming services for both and can advise you further. 

Siemens models include:

  • S7 200
  • S7 300
  • S7 400
  • S7 1200
  • S7 1500
  • ABB

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a common type of software used for automated processes. SCADA systems is another related term that often refers to the collective technology used to automate a process. 

With the expanded definition, SCADA systems include all of the hardware and software used in automation. SCADA systems are a type of Industrial Control System.

Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI)

Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) are touchscreens, smartphones, or other devices that allow humans to interact with the automated system. The hardware and software for Human-Machine Interfaces can be customized for industry and process needs.

UL508 & UL 508A Panels

UL508 & UL 508A are safety standards for industrial control panels written by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). These safety standards dictate how control panels are designed, fabricated, and assembled. Shops must be certified to provide UL508 panels.

Learn more about UL508 Panels from Access Industrial Automation.

Industrial Internet of Things (IioT)

Industrial Internet of Things (Iiot) is a centralized platform in industrial automation that processes data and communicates with data processing hardware and software. IioT uses smart technology to enhance performance management, send mobile alerts, and manage materials to reduce waste.


Industrial automation uses servers to collect and store data to send to computers. Servers can be in a physical location or part of a cloud. They remain an important part of automated workflows to run and process multiple applications. 


The specific type of sensors and the measurements collected are customized for the demands of the specific automated process. Sensors can measure temperature, pressure, and more. This vital data improves productivity and relays important information to Safety PLCs.

Remote Terminal Units (RTU)

Remote Terminal Units (RTU) are important whether the automated process uses Distributed Control Systems (DCS) or Supervisory Control and Data Acquistion (SCADA). These microprocessers (RTU) send information from sensors and digital inputs to Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

Distributed Control System (DCS)

Distributed Control Systems (DCS)s manage multiple machines throughout an entire factory or industrial setting. DCS is used to control the processes and make them more cost-effective, safer, and more reliable. DCS is a type of Industrial Control System (ICS).

Variable Frequency Drives (VFD)

Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) are alternating current (AC) drives that control the speed an torque of the motor by changing the frequency of the input electrical current. By controlling the speed and torque of the motors with VFDs, an entire machine can be automated effectively.

Safety Relays

Safety Relays are used to trigger emergency safety shut down measures. This technology is less efficient that using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). Safety relays require additional wiring and configuration when safety PLCs can have the features programmed seamlessly without additional hassle.

Read more about the differences between Safety PLCs and Safety Relays.

Industrial Control Systems (ICS)

Industrial Control Systems (ICS) include various control systems including Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Distributed Control Systems (DCS), and smaller and more localized systems using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).

Automation Services in California

Access Industrial Automation offers industrial automation services in central California. Our services range from system integration, PLC programming, and SCADA and HMI design. Let our experts and engineers help design the best system for you.

Contact Access Industrial Automation online or by calling (209)-577-1491.

Frequently Asked Questions

What technology is used in automation?

Technology in automation ranges from sensors to collect data, PLCs to receive inputs and respond to the data, and provide safety features, SCADA systems to manage the integration, and Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) for employees to oversee and provide input.

What modern tools are used in the automation industry?

The automation uses modern tools like robots, but also less well-known tools like programmable logic controllers (PLC)s, and increasingly sophisticate Human-Machine Interfaces to interact with the automated process and production. Sensors also become more accurate and helpful to provide data.

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