Automation


Minimum human intervention is required to control many large facilities such as this electrical generating station.

Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. Human intervention is reduced by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions — and embodying those predeterminations in machines.[1]

Automation,[2] includes the use of various equipment and control systems such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers,[3] and heat-treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering, and stabilization of ships, aircraft, and other applications and vehicles with reduced human intervention.[4]

Automation covers applications ranging from a household thermostat controlling a boiler, to a large industrial control system with tens of thousands of input measurements and output control signals. Automation has also found space in the banking sector. In control complexity, it can range from simple on-off control to multi-variable high-level algorithms.

In the simplest type of an automatic control loop, a controller compares a measured value of a process with a desired set value and processes the resulting error signal to change some input to the process, in such a way that the process stays at its set point despite disturbances. This closed-loop control is an application of negative feedback to a system. The mathematical basis of control theory was begun in the 18th century and advanced rapidly in the 20th.

Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices, and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes, and ships typically use all these combined techniques. The benefit of automation includes labor savings, reducing waste, savings in electricity costs, savings in material costs, and improvements to quality, accuracy, and precision.

The World Bank's World Development Report 2019 shows evidence that the new industries and jobs in the technology sector outweigh the economic effects of workers being displaced by automation.[5]

Job losses and downward mobility blamed on Automation has been cited as one of many factors in the resurgence of nationalist, protectionist and populist politics in the US, UK and France, among other countries since the 2010s.[6][7][8][9][10]

The term automation, inspired by the earlier word automatic (coming from automaton), was not widely used before 1947, when Ford established an automation department.[2] It was during this time that industry was rapidly adopting feedback controllers, which were introduced in the 1930s.[11]

  1. ^ Groover, Mikell (2014). Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing: Materials, Processes, and Systems.
  2. ^ a b Rifkin, Jeremy (1995). The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era. Putnam Publishing Group. pp. 66, 75. ISBN 978-0-87477-779-6.
  3. ^ Lyshevski, S.E. Electromechanical Systems and Devices 1st Edition. CRC Press, 2008. ISBN 1420069721.
  4. ^ Lamb, Frank. Industrial Automation: Hands On (English Edition). NC, McGraw-Hill Education, 2013. ISBN 978-0071816458
  5. ^ The Changing Nature of Work (Report). The World Bank. 2019.
  6. ^ Dashevsky, Evan (8 November 2017). "How Robots Caused Brexit and the Rise of Donald Trump". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 November 2017.
  7. ^ Torrance, Jack (25 July 2017). "Robots for Trump: Did automation swing the US election?". Management Today.
  8. ^ Harris, John (29 December 2016). "The lesson of Trump and Brexit: a society too complex for its people risks everything | John Harris". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  9. ^ Darrell West (18 April 2018). "Will robots and AI take your job? The economic and political consequences of automation". Brookings Institution.
  10. ^ Clare Byrne (7 December 2016). "'People are lost': Voters in France's 'Trumplands' look to far right". The Local.fr.
  11. ^ Bennett 1993.

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