Simply put, automation is the act of making a machine carry out an action automatically and eliminating the need for human input to carry out this action. Of course, this can range from carrying out a whole series of actions with no human interaction down to just one simple action no longer needing any input.
One of the first known cases of automation came as early as the 1st century BC. This was the invention of the “Water Wheel”. Naturally running water was used to turn a wheel and drive a mechanical process. This concept was expanded upon around the 7th-9th century when the first recorded design for a Windmill dates back to. Windmills work in the same way as a water wheel except its wind that turns the wheel. This design was (and still is in some places) commonly used to grind grain in the production of flour.
These are very early examples of automation and would be considered as “semi-automatic”. This is because they all still had to involve quite a lot of human interaction for the full process to be completed. The first process considered to be fully automatic was an automatic flour mill created around 1785 by American inventor, Oliver Evans. Using waterpower and five bulk material handling devices the number of workers needed to operate dropped down from four to one. This was a major milestone for automation.
In recent years more and more parts of life have become automated. The first computer in the 1990s allowed for a whole new type of automation where it wasn’t a mechanical process being carried out but a digital process. This is currently proving to be a massive place in which many companies can improve, automating the small repeatable and mundane tasks to free up time for the skilled workers to work on more important tasks that require human input. This can save on money and time as well as lower the amount of human error in the business’s processes.
In the modern world there is so much automation in everyday life that many people will use some sort of automation every single day of their lives. It can be as simple as an electric kettle turning off when the water reaches the desired temperature or as complex as a whole factory using robotic arms and sensors to create a product. Commercial automation has become a lot more accessible to the general public over the past few years and it is likely to keep moving in this direction. More and more people don’t want to waste time doing things that could easily be carried out without their input.
With technology advancing and improving at an exponential rate the future of automation will be very exciting and will improve the daily lives of countless people around the world.
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