Automation is the use of machines, control systems and information technologies to optimize productivity in the production of goods and delivery of services. The correct incentive for applying automation is to increase productivity, and/or quality beyond that possible with current human labor levels so as to realize economies of scale, and/or realize predictable quality levels. In the scope of industrialisation, automation is a step beyond mechanization. Whereas mechanization provides human operators with machinery to assist them with the muscular requirements of work, automation greatly decreases the need for human sensory and mental requirements while increasing load capacity, speed, and repeatability. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the world economy and in daily experience. Automation has had a notable impact in a wide range of industries beyond manufacturing (where it began). Once-ubiquitous telephone operators have been replaced largely by automated telephone switchboards and answering machines. Medical processes such as primary screening in electrocardiography or radiography and laboratory analysis of human genes, sera, cells, and tissues are carried out at much greater speed and accuracy by automated systems. Automated teller machines have reduced the need for bank visits to obtain cash and carry out transactions. In general, automation has been responsible for the shift in the world economy from industrial jobs to service jobs in the 20th and 21st centuries. The term automation, inspired by the earlier word automatic (coming from automaton), was not widely used before 1947, when General Motors established the automation department. At that time automation technologies were electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic. Between 1957 and 1964 factory output nearly doubled while the number of blue collar workers started to decline. Advantages and disadvantages
| This article contains a pro and con list. Please help improve it by integrating both sides into a more neutral presentation. (November 2012)
| The main advantages of automation are:
* Increased throughput or productivity.
* Improved quality or increased predictability of quality. * Improved robustness (consistency), of processes or product. The following methods are often employed to improve productivity, quality, or robustness. * Install automation in operations to reduce cycle time.
* Install automation where a high degree of accuracy is required. * Replacing human operators in tasks that involve hard physical or monotonous work. * Replacing humans in tasks done in dangerous environments (i.e. fire, space, volcanoes, nuclear facilities, underwater, etc.) * Performing tasks that are beyond human capabilities of size, weight, speed, endurance, etc. * Economy improvement: Automation may improve in economy of enterprises, society or most of humanity. For example, when an enterprise invests in automation, technology recovers its investment; or when a state or country increases its income due to automation like Germany or Japan in the 20th Century. * Reduces operation time and work handling time significantly. * Frees up workers to take on other roles.
* Provides higher level jobs in the development, deployment, maintenance and running of the automated processes. The main disadvantages of automation are:
* Security Threats/Vulnerability: An automated system may have a limited level of intelligence, and is therefore more susceptible to committing errors outside of its immediate scope of knowledge (e.g., it is typically unable to apply the rules of simple logic to general propositions). * Unpredictable/excessive development costs: The research and development cost of automating a process may exceed the cost saved by the automation itself. * High initial cost: The automation of a new product or plant typically requires a very large initial investment in comparison with the unit cost...
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