Automation is the use of machines, control systems and information technologies to optimize productivity in the production of goods and delivery of services. The correct incentive for applying automation is to increase productivity, and/or quality beyond that possible with current human labor levels so as to realize economies of scale, and/or realize predictable quality levels. The incorrect application of automation, which occurs most often, is an effort to eliminate or replace human labor. Simply put, whereas correct application of automation can net as much as 3 to 4 times original output with no increase in current human labor costs, incorrect application of automation can only save a fraction of current labor level costs. In the scope of industrialisation, automation is a step beyond mechanisation. Whereas mechanisation provides human operators with machinery to assist them with the muscular requirements of work, automation greatly decreases the need for human sensory and mental requirements while increasing load capacity, speed, and repeatability. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the world economy and in daily experience.

Automation has had a notable impact in a wide range of industries beyond manufacturing (where it began). Once-ubiquitous telephone operators have been replaced largely by automated telephone switchboards and answering machines. Medical processes such as primary screening in electrocardiography or radiography and laboratory analysis of human genes, sera, cells, and tissues are carried out at much greater speed and accuracy by automated systems. Automated teller machines have reduced the need for bank visits to obtain cash and carry out transactions. In general, automation has been responsible for the shift in the world economy from industrial jobs to service jobs in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The term automation, inspired by the earlier word automatic (coming from automaton), was not widely used before 1947, when General Motors established the automation department. At that time automation technologies were electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic. Between 1957 and 1964 factory output nearly doubled while the number of blue collar workers started to decline.

Read more about Automation:  Automation Tools, Relationship To Unemployment

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