Automation is the utilization of a number of controls for theoperation of equipment such as machines, manufacturing, packages andcooling systems, as well as other applications with little humanintervention. Most of the processes have been wholly automated. Themain advantage of the automation is that it saves on labor, energy aswell as improving quality, accuracy, and precision (Jacobs 1). Evenwith the most advanced automated systems, humans still have asignificant role to play and, therefore, can never be completelyreplaced by machines.
Role of Human in the Automation Era
Automation systems are widely used in many industrial jobs, fromspray painting to welding to carrying heavy equipment. Industrialrobots can produce high-quality goods for the consumers, generate ahigher return on investment for the investors, and bring the safetyto the workplace (Jacobs 1).
During development of any automation system which relates to thecombination of decisions made by man and automation, the issue thatmainly arises is where, when, or how much a man and automation couldbe integrated into the making of decisions process. Developing ofmodern machines and manufacturing equipment, supported by enhancedcontrols, according to recent achievements of software technology isneeded to satisfy users as well as maintain high quality (Jacobs 1).
A large number of automation systems could work with the lesser helpof staff. However, even in situations where enhanced automatingsystems are in use, still one of the most vital factors is a man.Normally, full system performance is dependent on decisions made byman the importance of them is greater than usual, because of themore difficult and expensive production systems. During such aninstance, the need for proper use of production equipment by properman-machine integration is important (Jacobs 1).
The issue with human-automation function allocation is not anacademic task. The rise of drones for example and the issues withlittle supervision from the staff are an example of human-automationcombination issues in commercial flying. Mining industries now mainlyutilize automation to process and in more cases absolutely get rid ofhumans, and machines that need human interaction are in wars and inmedical scenarios (Rassenfoss 1).
We, as humans, have had both negative and positive roles in theautomation era. For one to properly understand our role, one has toconsider various ways that man has interacted with automationprocesses. Beginning with the early utilization of automation intothe Industrial Revolution to the processes that occur in unauthorizedair, water vehicle systems, many points are brought into focus(Rassenfoss 1).
The application areas where humans often utilize automation includeagriculture, communications, inspection systems, manufacturing,diagnostic applications and as well as teaching. The advantages anddisadvantages of this interaction with modern automation could beanalyzed. The issues that arise from how man has to utilizeautomation include trust, social acceptance, authority loss, safetyissues, adaptiveness to automation resulting in less plannedexpectancy, cost effectiveness, and performance gain (Jacobs 1).
According to the anthropologist Arnold Gehlen, author of Man in theage of technology, technology has always been the means used by manto make up for his physical and mental deficiencies and thus is anextension of our senses (Jacobs 1). In other words, the technology isto man an extension of his body, of his physical and mentalabilities, it is a prosthesis that allows the establishment of anincreased reality. For example, the hammer extends our hand forstrength, the car extends our foot for speed, and the phone extendsour ear and our mouth to increase our communication skills (Jacobs1).
The human value will, therefore, never be canceled by the technology,as the man himself is technology. Over time, the technologicalprogress has produced increasingly effective and efficientinstruments and, with the diffusion of Softwares, they have replacedhuman labor in many manual and managerial functions. This developmentprocess has made for sure no longer needed some professions oftenarduous or alienating (Bement 1).
A company, like Toyota, that makes quality the benchmark of itsentire business, knows that man will always be at the center of itsprocesses because it will make a contribution that no machine, nomatter how evolved, will be able to make (Rassenfoss 1).
The new technology and organization, thanks to a global monitoring ofall phases of processing of each item, allowed an increase inproductivity, the reduction of defects, the reduction of dead timescaused by the stop of the machinery and a considerable increase inthe hours of annual use, in addition to a very accurate prediction ofprocessing times and therefore, of molds delivery dates (Haight 1).
The elimination of manual tasks has not meant, however, renouncingthe human factor: the key to making possible the reorganization ofproduction was, in fact, the relocation of professional skills,before engaged in supporting and coordinating production phases andnow in charge of the fully automated management process (Haight 1).
As automation improves efficiency and a highly increased outputbecomes an absolute need for financial gain, humankind may result tobe more dependent to use automated processes. However, there is adownside to the growth in this phenomenon. Previously, Joel M. Haigh,an author, while studying the oil production industry, spentsignificant time with experienced supervisors (Haight 1).
He watched these supervisors driving around in the oil fields. Asupervisor would slow down and stop once hearing something that wasnot normal such as a weird sound. He would then walk to the point ofthe sound and listen even more carefully, place his hand on a pieceof piping and then radio the maintenance supervisor to suggest therepair of a leak, some other problem. These supervisors relied ontheir experience, sentient knowledge, and skills to operate theprocess. Sentient knowledge is the knowledge got from sensorysystems. They had a feeling for the automation. Despite automationproviding predictability and more accurate performance, it lacks injudgment, adaptability, and logic (Haight 1).
Automation has aided man in many tasks such as in manufacture.However, man has helped in making this automation process a success.Human beings have enabled the machines to properly operate andfunction. A man has aided in maintenance as well in the assessment ofthe machines (Sandhu 1).
The Paradox of Automation states that the higher the efficiency ofthe automated system, the even more important man intervention is.Despite man being less involved, his involvement is even morerequired. Whenever an automated system encounters an error, it willmultiply it until it is fixed this is where human operators come in(Sandhu 1).
Efficient Automation makes humans more important, not less. The needfor human intervention in automation can, therefore, not beundermined. It is paramount that those seeking to put into useautomation processes strike a balance between the use of staff aswell as the use of automation (Faros 1).
Bement, James.Automation Will Drive Industry Revolution, 2011.Accessed on December 24, 2016, fromhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1111-0018-JPT
Faros, Brian. ‘Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, Vol.31Issue 5, May 2016
Haight, Joel. Safely Managing the Design and Use of AutomatedControl Systems. 2015
Jacobs, Trent.The Dawn of a New Automation Consortium. 2015.Accessed on 24, 2016, from http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/0715-0046-JPT
Sandhu, Ravi.Future of Access Control: Attributes, Automation, andAdaptation, 2013. Accessed on December 24, 2016, fromhttp://profsandhu.com/miscppt/coimbatore_131219.pdf
Rassenfoss, Stephen. ‘Drilling Automation: A Catalyst forChange’, 2011. Accessed on December 24, 2016, fromhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2118/0911-0028-JPT