The development of automation throughout the 20th century brought enormous changes to the industrial world: some jobs disappeared, others underwent major transformation, new ones were created and, most importantly, the interaction between man and machine was altered forever. In recent years, the emergence and proliferation of robots on the factory floor has raised automation to a new level.
Safety, reliability and quality through automation
The advantages of having automated systems were soon recognized by industry. The systems enabled human operators to be replaced in tasks that involved hard physical or monotonous work, or those being performed in hazardous environments including nuclear facilities, underwater or where there was a high risk of fire. Automated systems can also undertake jobs that cannot be performed by human beings because of excessive demands, for example where extremes of speed, size, weight or endurance are called for. Automated processes often achieve more consistent quality and reliability in the assembly chain than humans are able to replicate.
Automation changed the industrial landscape
The rapid evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) in the second part of the 20th century enabled engineers to create increasingly complex control systems capable of being integrated fully with the factory floor.
The automotive industry, for instance, has been transformed radically by the development of automation. Over time, the food and pharmaceutical industries and other manufacturing companies have also relied heavily on automation to produce higher quantities and at lower cost. Today, most sectors of industry use at least some element of automation.
IEC standardization plays major role
The IEC has a number of Technical Committees (TCs) that prepare International Standards connected with specific areas of industrial automation. IEC TC 65: Industrial-process measurement, control and automation, provides many of the Standards that are relevant for industry. IEC TC 2: Rotating machinery, IEC TC 22: Power electronic systems and equipment, IEC TC 44: Safety of machinery – Electrotechnical aspects, IEC TC 66: Safety of measuring, control and laboratory equipment, and TC 121: Switchgear and controlgear and their assemblies for low voltage, all play important roles in this field.
Continue reading in our e-tech article written by Claire Marchand here.