What are the factors that justify the implementation of automated systems in a factory? The two leading factors are improved performance and reduced costs. A general perception is that automation technology is basically designed to replace humans with intelligent machines. Automation, on contrary, is the implementation of latest tools and devices in order to make production processes efficient and improve workplace safety. The modern industrial setup demands a balanced system where machines and humans interact and perform in the most efficient way.
The digital computers and the revolution that they have brought about has changed the characteristics of work, communication, and other human activities. A rapid development in the power and capabilities of industrial computer hardware and software have driven businesses to upgrade or completely replace their outdated machines to meet the future’s needs. The potential economic benefits of automation force public attention to consider the diverse capabilities of automated systems.
It is probably hard to explain the work capabilities of a human mind in technical terms. In a manual production system, operators control the entire operation from start to completion. On the other hand, in a fully automatic system, machines control the entire operation from material handling and production to quality control and monitoring. However, it is not possible to remove operators from the system. Even in a highly sophisticated system, such as spacecraft, operators will perform the duties of supervisors.
What prevents the complete removal of humans from a system are their abilities to be flexible, creative, and adaptable. These traits are essential to deal with unforeseen or unexpected circumstances during a process. Change and adaptability are two major factors that emphasis on the role of technically trained supervisors and managers. Robotic welding, for example, can produce tremendous results but it does need human input and supervision.
Most of the industrial automated systems are dependable and usually perform as advertised. However, it is not advisable to rely entirely on machines as they may fail or behave in an unpredictable way. An over reliance on machines can lead to failure of monitoring. It is not just the operators that concede mistakes. In the case of excessive trust in automated systems leads to blind reliance on automation without realizing its limitations.
The manufacturing industry faces hard time in understanding, developing, and measuring man-machine interaction in order to remain competitive. With the help of necessary human assistance, an automated system can produce dramatic results. Companies should take a balanced approach towards allocating tasks between humans and machines to produce maximum results.