July 25, 2012

What is Automation ?

In the later half of 19th century, industrial sector was fast growing. Demand was more than supply. There was need for greater output in less time without sacrificing the quality. This need was the root of modern day Automation. Industry people started thinking about ways to increase the output with more quality & less time. They developed machinery and control systems which were doing various industry jobs automatically. Human resources were used to monitor the process of manufacturing, rather then doing the manufacturing itself.

Automation can be simply define as process of ” Doing anything automatically with least intervention of human being ” Automation which was initially practiced in industrial sector has spread in to various other domains like Home , office, Agriculture, Medical etc.

Automation today has become very sophisticated. It includes various sub field technologies like telecommunications, Microcontrollers & latest ASICs ( Application Specific ICs), Fiber-optics, Digital sensors, electro-optics, wireless applications, mobile instruments, Data Acquisition Systems, Internet etc. All these technologies play imortant role in a very co-ordinated drama called Automation.

Now let us see how an automation is used in various sectors –

Industrial Automation

Industrial automation is the birthplace of automation. Every industry strives for more output with greater accuracy, using less energy and using minimum time. This requires co-ordination of various elements of Automation. Today’s automation requires proper combination of Hardware and software. Hardware includes all the electronics and controlling system including data acquisition systems. This is combined with proper software to run this hardware.

Data Acquisition Systems gather real world parameters like Temperature, pressure,Humidity, weight, length etc and present them in digital form to the controlling system. Programmable Logic Controllers ( PLCs) are best examples of a controlling system.

This PLC is a small powerful controlling system that can be taught to control any machinery or the process. Once taught, it will see that machinery or the process is controlled as per provided guidelines and if something goes wrong it raises alarm. Otherwise there is very little human intervention during controlling. Other notable automation systems are SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and DCS (Distributed Control System).

Office Automation

Though not as sophisticated as industrial automation, office automation still helps to make our day to day & repeated work much easier and less time consuming chore. Computers and latest internet enabled office equipments are examples of office automation.

Home Automation

This is now latest trend in the field of automation. We like to have our home very much comfortable and we prefer that all our comfort related requirement should be met automatically without our intervention.
For example, when we come to home, temperature inside should be more comfortable as per our likings. For this if outside temp is high, AC system should start before we reach to our home and see that when we reach our home it is required temperature. If it is cold outside then heater system should behave in same way. Same logic is applied for lighting and music system.
In short, home environment will adjust to various kind of our sensory requirement. For this many gadgets like Remote controllers, Home automation consoles, automated security systems, internet enabled home appliances try to make our home stay much more comfortable then before.

Apart from all these technologies, Robots are also playing very important part in overall automation scenario. Day by day, robots are becoming very sophisticated with the development of hi-tech electronics and Artificial Intelligence. Apart from manufacturing sector, they have now invaded not only home & offices but service sector like Restaurants. Days are not far when we will be having our personal robot assistant one at office & one at our home.

In India, days of MahaBharat and Ramayan were regarded as “Mantra Uga“. Many works were done through only using mind power. We had recordings of Aeroplane used at that time ! Many hi-tech machinery including deadliest weapon technology & even nuclear bomb existed at that time, which were controlled solely using Mantra – mind power. Unfortunately all the technology was lost but looking to the present progress of the technology we may witness such technology in near future.

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