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2.6 Continuous, Synchronous and Asynchronous Processes
Processes may take various forms in automated production. They may be continuous as with the mixing of chemicals, synchronous where operations are performed in unison or asynchronous where operations are performed independently. Manual and automated tasks may be mixed to utilize the decision making and dexterity advantages of human labor.
2.6.1 Continuous Processes
Chemical, food and beverage production often operates in a continuous fashion. Chemicals or ingredients are mixed together continuously to produce a “batch” of product. Plastics are often extruded continuously and then segmented into individual pieces for further operations.
2.6.2 Asynchronous Processes
Processes are said to be asynchronous when they do not relay on a master timing signal. An example of this might be an operation which takes place when a product arrives at an operator station from a previous process on a conveyor. The component may then be operated on when its arrival has been detected by a sensor rather than at the index completion signal from the conveyor.
2.6.3 Synchronous Processes
Synchronous processes rely on a master clock or timing signal of some kind. Cam driven devices on a line shaft are examples of a synchronous process. Assembly line operations may be synchronous, asynchronous or a combination of both depending on the source of the initiating trigger.