Automation can be defined as the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance.
In other words, 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 on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention, with some processes have been completely automated.
Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes and ships typically use all these combined techniques. The benefit of automation include labor savings, savings in electricity costs, savings in material costs, and improvements to quality, accuracy and precision.
The term automation, inspired by the earlier word automatic (coming from automaton), was not widely used before 1947, when Ford established an automation department. It was during this time that industry was rapidly adopting feedback controllers, which were introduced in the 1930s.
What is Automation?
The dictionary defines automation as “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.”
We define automation as “ the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.”
Using our definition, the automation profession includes “everyone involved in the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services”; and the automation professional is “any individual involved in the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.”
Automation encompasses many vital elements, systems, and job functions. It provides benefits to virtually all of industry. Here are some examples:
- Manufacturing , including food and pharmaceutical, chemical and petroleum, pulp and paper
- Transportation , including automotive, aerospace, and rail
- Utilities , including water and wastewater, oil and gas, electric power, and telecommunications
- Facility operations , including security, environmental control, energy management, safety, and other building automation
- And many others
Automation crosses all functions within industry from installation, integration, and maintenance to design, procurement, and management. Automation even reaches into the marketing and sales functions of these industries.
Automation involves a very broad range of technologies including robotics and expert systems, telemetry and communications, electro-optics, Cybersecurity, process measurement and control, sensors, wireless applications, systems integration, test measurement, and many, many more.
Why is the Automation Professional so Important?
Think about the cell phone and computer you use every day to do your job. Think about the car you drive to take to work. Think about the food you eat; water you drink; clothes you wear; and appliances you use to store, prepare, and clean them. Think about the television you watch, video games you play, or music system you listen to. Think about the buildings you visit. Think about any modern convenience or necessity. Just about anything you can think of is the result of complex processes. Without talented individuals to design, build, improve, and maintain these processes, these technological advances would never have occurred and future innovations would be impossible. Without automation professionals, our world and our future would be very different.
Professionals are responsible for solving complex problems in many vital aspects of industry and its processes. The work of automation professionals is critically important to the preservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the public and to the sustainability and enhancement of our quality of life. These professionals do and will continue to play a crucial role in protecting us from cyber-attack; enhancing our quality of life; and ensuring the reliability, efficiency, safety, constant improvement, and competitiveness of our electric power systems, transportation systems, manufacturing operations, and industry as a whole. Without these individuals, we cannot advance into the future