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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For a hierarchical presentation of automation topics, see Outline of automation. For other uses, see Automation (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with automaton.
For more details on this topic, see Productivity improving technologies (historical) § Automation, process control and servomechanisms.
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 in telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications with minimal or reduced human intervention. Some processes have been completely automated.
The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor, however, it is also used to save energy and materials and to improve quality, accuracy and precision.
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. It was during this time that industry was rapidly adopting feedback controllers, which were introduced in the 1930s.
Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes and ships typically use all these combined techniques.