It is a technology dealing with the application of Mechatronics Computers For production of goods and services. Automation is broadly classified into- 1. Manufacturing automation 2. Service automation The use of automatic machinery and systems, particularly those manufacturing or data-processing systems which require little or no human intervention in their normal operation. During the 19th century a number of machines such as looms and lathes became increasingly self-regulating.At the same time transfer-machines were developed, whereby a series of machine-tools, each doing one operation automatically, became linked in a continuous production line by pneumatic or hydraulic devices transferring components from one operation to the next. In addition to these technological advances in automation, the theory of ‘scientific management’, which was based on the early time-and-motion studies of Frederick Winslow Taylor in Philadelphia, USA, in the 1880s was designed by Taylor to enhance the efficiency and productivity of workers and machines.In the early 20th century, with the development of electrical devices and time-switches, more processes became automatically controlled, and a number of basic industries such as oil-refining, chemicals, and food-processing were increasingly automated. The development of computers after World War II enabled more sophisticated automation to be used in manufacturing industries, for example iron and steel. The most familiar example of a highly automated system is perhaps an assembly plant for automobiles or other complex products.Over the last few decades automation has evolved from the comparatively straightforward mechanization of tasks traditionally carried out by hand, through the introduction of complex automatic control systems, to the widespread automation of information collection and processing. Types of Automation Fixed automation custom-engineered, special-purpose equipment to automate a fixed sequence of operations,high production rates, inflexible product designProgrammable automation equipment designed to accommodate a specific class of product changes, batch production, medium volume Flexible automation esigned to manufacture a variety of products or parts low production rates, varying product design and demand Programmable Automation Weaving Programmable looms Musical instruments Many batch-processed products Brackets, hinges, door knobs, locks Flexible versus Fixed Automation Capital intensity: the mix of equipment and human skills: 1. the greater the relative cost of equipment, the higher the capital intensity 2. the higher the capital intensity, the greater the degree of automation 3. Resource Flexibility: the ease with which the equipment and employees can handle a wide variety of resourcesAdvantages The main advantages of automation are: * Increased throughput or productivity. * Improved quality or increased predictability of quality. * Improved robustness (consistency), of processes or product. * Increased consistency of output. * Reduced direct human labor costs and expenses. 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. * Economic 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. Disadvantages The main disadvantages of automation are: 1. 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). 2. Unpredictable/excessive development costs: The  cost of automating a process may exceed the cost saved by the automation itself. 3.High initial cost: The automation of a new product or plant  typically requires a very large initial investment in comparison with the unit cost of the product, although the cost of automation may be spread among many products and over time. In manufacturing, the purpose of automation has shifted to issues broader than productivity, cost, and time. Automation tools Engineers can now have numerical control over automated devices. The result has been a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities. Computer-aided technologies (or CAx) now serve the basis for mathematical and organizational tools used to create complex systems.Notable examples of CAx include Computer-aided design (CAD software) and Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM software). The improved design, analysis, and manufacture of products enabled by CAx has been beneficial for industry. Information technology, together with industrial machinery and processes, can assist in the design, implementation, and monitoring of control systems. One example of an industrial control system is a programmable logic controller (PLC). PLCs are specialized hardened computers which are frequently used to synchronize the flow of inputs from (physical) sensors and events with the flow of outputs to actuators and events.Human-machine interfaces (HMI) or computer human interfaces (CHI), formerly known as man-machine interfaces, are usually employed to communicate with PLCs and other computers. Service personnel who monitor and control through HMIs can be called by different names. In industrial process and manufacturing environments, they are called operators or something similar. In boiler houses and central utilities departments they are called stationary engineers. Different types of automation tools exist: * ANN – Artificial neural network * BPM – Bonita Open Solution * DCS – Distributed Control System HMI – Human Machine Interface * SCADA – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition * PLC – Programmable Logic Controller * Instrumentation * Motion control * Robotics Limitataions * Current technology is unable to automate all the desired tasks. * As a process becomes increasingly automated, there is less and less labor to be saved or quality improvement to be gained. This is an example of both diminishing returns and the logistic function. * Similar to the above, as more and more processes become automated, there are fewer remaining non-automated processes. This is an example of exhaustion of opportunities.New technological paradigms may however set new limits * that surpass the previous limits. * Current limitations[edit] Many roles for humans in industrial processes presently lie beyond the scope of automation. Human-level pattern recognition, language comprehension, and language production ability are well beyond the capabilities of modern mechanical and computer systems. Tasks requiring subjective assessment or synthesis of complex sensory data, such as scents and sounds, as well as high-level tasks such as strategic planning, currently require human expertise.In many cases, the use of humans is more cost-effective than mechanical approaches even where automation of industrial tasks is possible. Overcoming these obstacles is a theorized path to post-scarcity economics. Example Gillette South Boston Plant makes Sensor Excel Cartridges 1. 5 to 2 billion cartridges/year 100 cartridges/minute/line Major processes: injection molding: 500 ton, 32 cavity molds ($ 1M) machines, 20 second cycle time Extrusion: others: grinding, stamping, welding, assembly bottlenecks in assembly: injection molding and part feeding: Time to market: 24 monthsCapital cost: $200 million Estimated life cycle: 6-8 years Reasons for Automation 1. Shortage of labour : The ratio of the number of workers to the number of retirees in the U. S. is expected to be 2 to 1 in 2000. Main reason in Japan. 2. High cost of labour It may not always make sense to establish plants in countries with low labour costs 3. Increased productivity value of output per person per hour increases 4. Lower costs 5. reduced scrap rate 6. lower in-process inventory 7. superior quality 8. shorter (compact) lines 9. Reducing manufacturing lead time 10. espond quickly to the consumers’ needs. Reasons for not automating 1. Labor resistance 2. Cost of upgraded labor l Chrysler Detroit plant – 1 million hours of retraining l GM Wilmington assembly plant – $250 hours/person/year 3. Initial investment 4. Management of process improvements 5. Intellectual assets versus technological asset Cost of Flexible Automation Capital costs per car in 1996 Toyota l 480,000 cars/year, $3960/car Nissan l 450,000 cars/year, $2670/car Honda l 610,000 cars/year, $3300/year Suzuki l 200,000 cars/year, $2150/yearCase study: Toyota versus Ford Toyota Georgetown Plant Camry/Avalon 20 models 2 lines, 2 platforms/line Workforce 25% college grads another 50% entered college Flexible automation 20 models, 197,000 cars/year 39,000 specifications 23,000 one-of-a-kind specifications Ford Atlanta Plant Taurus 2 models 2 lines, 1 platform/line Workforce 50% high school drop outs Automation in low-wage countries Do we need automation in low-wage countries? Capital intensity is equally high u Fiat plant at Belo Horizonte, Brazil u Carplastic – manufacturer of car plastic components Ford subsidiary in Monterrey Mexico

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