Definition of Automation

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Machine Information Systems

If you took the words automatic and motion
you could be forgiven for making up
the definition of automation from them.

The definition of automation term, Automation was first used as it is now, in the modern day use, around 1946 by a Ford Motor Company engineer. He used the word automation to describe a wide variety of systems in which there was a significant substitution of mechanical, electrical, and/or computerized action for human effort and intelligence.

With the general usage, automation can be defined as a technology concerned with performing a process by means of programmed commands combined with automatic feedback control (see control system) to ensure proper execution of the instructions. The resulting system is capable of operating without human intervention.

The process of having a machine or machines accomplish tasks hitherto 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 be applied to almost any human endeavor, from manufacturing to clerical and administrative tasks. An example of automation is the heating and air-conditioning system in the modern household. After initial programming by the occupant, these systems keep the house at a constant desired temperature regardless of the conditions outside.

The fundamental constituents of any automated process are (1) a power source, (2) a feedback control mechanism, and (3) a programmable command (see illustration) structure. Programmability does not necessarily imply an electronic computer. For example, the Jacquard loom, developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, used metal plates with holes to control the weaving process. Nonetheless, the advent of World War II and the advances made in electronic computation and feedback have certainly contributed to the growth of automation. While feedback is usually associated with more advanced forms of automation, so-called open-loop automated tasks are possible. Here, the automated process proceeds without any direct and continuous 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.

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