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automation

Automation

Automation or automatic control, is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching in telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications with minimal or reduced human intervention. Some processes have been completely automated.

 

The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor, however, it is also used to save energy and materials and to improve quality, accuracy and precision.
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. It was during this time that industry was rapidly adopting feedback controllers, which were introduced in the 1930s.

 

Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes and ships typically use all these combined techniques.

 

Types of automation
Two common types of automation are feedback control, which is usually continuous and involves taking measurements using a sensor and making calculated adjustments to keep the measured variable within a set range, and sequence control, in which a programmed sequence of discrete operations is performed, often based on system logic. Cruise control is an example of the former while an elevator or an automated teller machine (ATM) is an example of the latter.
The theoretical basis of feedback control is control theory, which also covers servomechanisms, which are often part of an automated system.
Feedback control is called "closed loop" while non-feedback control is called "open loop."

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