Elements of an automated system.


Nov 5, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)


Automation is a
process of having a machine or machines accomplish tasks before

performed wholly or partly by humans. As used here, a machine refers to any inanimate

electromechanical device such as a robot or computer. As a technology, automation can

pplied to almost any human endeavor, from manufacturing to


tasks. An example of automation is the heating and air

system in the modern
household. After initial programming these systems keep the

house at a constant
temperature regardless of the conditions outside.

The fundamental constituents of any automated process are (1) a power source, (2)


feedback control mechanism, and (3) a programmable
command structure.

Programmability does not necessarily i
mply an electronic computer. For example, the

Jacquard loom, developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, used metal plates

holes to control the weaving process
The advent of World War II and the advances

made in
electronic computation and fe
edback have certainly contributed to the, growth

of automation.

While feedback is usually associated with more advanced forms of

automation, so
loop automated tasks are possible. Here, the automated

process proceeds without any
direct and conti
nuous assessment of the effect of the

automated activity. For example, an
automated car wash typically completes its task

with no continuous or final assessment of the
cleanliness of the automobile.

Elements of an automated system.

Because of the growth
of automation, any categorization of automated tasks and
processes is incomplete. Such a categorization can be attempted by recognizing two distinct
groups, automated manufacturing and automated information processing and control:
Automated manufacturing i
ncludes automated machine tools, assembly lines, robotic
assembly machines, automated storage
retrieval systems, integrated computer
aided design
and computer
aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), automatic inspection and testing, and
automated agricultural equip
ment (used, for example, in crop harvesting). Automated
information processing and c

includes automatic order processing, word processing
and text editing, automatic data processing, automatic flight control, automatic automobile
cruise control, auto
matic airline reservation systems, automatic mail sorting machines,
automated planet exploration.

A major issue in the design of systems involving both human and automated machines
concerns allocating functions between the two. This allocation can be stati
c or dynamic.
Static allocation is fixed; that is, the separation of responsibilities between human and
machine do not change with time. Dynamic allocation implies that the functions allocated to
human and machine are subject to change. Historically, stati
c allocation began with reference
to lists of activities which summarized the relative advantages of humans and machines with
respect to a variety of activities. For example, at present humans appear to surpass machines
in the ability to reason inductively
, that is, to proceed from the particular to the general.
Machines, however, surpass humans in the ability to handle complex operations and to do
many different things at once, that is, to engage in parallel processing. Dynamic function
allocation can be s
een as operating through a formulation which continuously determines
which agent (human or machine) is free to attend to a particular task or function.

There are many different reasons to automate. Increased productivity is normally the
major reason for ma
ny companies desiring a competitive advantage. Automation also offers
low operational variability. Variability is directly related to quality and productivity. Other
reasons to automate include the presence of a hazardous working environment and the high
ost of human labor. Some businesses automate processes in order to reduce production time,
increase manufacturing flexibility, reduce costs, eliminate human error, or make up for a
labor shortage. Decisions associated with automation are usually concerned
with some or all
of these economic and social considerations.