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VIII. Are these statements true or false? Correct the false ones with the right information from the text and discuss your answers with a partner.
1. Automation is a process of having a machine accomplish tasks before performed wholly or partly by humans.
2. The advances made in electronic computation and feedback have contributed to the growth of automation.
3. It is impossible to imagine programmability without an electronic computer.
4. The main components of automation are a power source, a feedback control mechanism, and a programmable command.
5. Feedback is connected with more advanced forms of automation.
6. The automated process cannot be performed without any direct and continuous estimate of the effect of the automated activity.
7. There are two distinct groups in automation: automated manufacturing and automated information processing and control.
IX. Give your own definition of the term “automation”.
X. Talk about automation according to the plan:
- definition of automation;
- the main constituents of automation;
- the classification of automation;
- the reasons of automation;
- the advantages of automation.
XI. Surf the Internet and find some new information about the application of automation in our life. Make a note of it and bring your notes to the class.
I. Read five texts about automation and decide which of the headings (1-6) best corresponds to each text (A-E).Explain your choice of headings. There is an extra heading that you don`t need to use.
1. The development of NC machine tools
II. Read the texts again. For information 1-12 choose the appropriate text A, B, C, D, E.
1. Computer numerical control
2. The definition of the term “utomation”
3. Examples of automation in a nuclear plant
4. The Industrial robot
5. Massive unemployment
6. The origin of the term “automation”
7. “Push button factory”
8. The assembly line at the Ford Motor Company
9. The first numerically controlled machine tool
10. The appearance of the first robot
11. The sorting of mail
12. The improved quality of products
Term coined about 1946 by a Ford Motor Co. engineer, used to describe a wide variety of systems in which there is a significant substitution of mechanical, electrical, or computerized action for human effort and intelligence. In general usage, automation can be defined as a technology concerned with performing a process by means of programmed commands combined with automatic feedback control to ensure proper execution of the instructions. The resulting system is capable of operating without human intervention.
“Automation” refers more to an ideal for industrial production than any one set of technologies or practices. The word was coined in 1946 by the Ford Motor Company’s vice president, Dale S. Harder, who used it to describe the automatic or semiautomatic mechanical equipment then coming into use for the assembly of automobiles, the machining of automobile parts, and the stamping of sheet metal items such as fenders. While the popular press sometimes described these machines as “robots”, implying a humanlike flexibility of application, the technologies Harder described were designed to perform a single task. Later, the term “automation” was often used to describe computer-controlled (usually programmable) machines that did include the potential to work on various different tasks. What Harder described was the culmination of the evolution of machine production underway for at least a century and was an extension of what had previously called “mechanization”. This mechanization was largely a nineteenth-century phenomenon, involving the deskilling of work or the full replacement of craft workers with machines. This movement was reaching its limits at Ford and elsewhere by 1950, just at the time when university and military researchers were investigating a new technology that combined traditional production machinery, especially machine tools, and the newly developed electronic computer. By the early 1950s, there would be a distinction in engineering circles between “Detroit automation”, relying on purely mechanical means, and computer automation.
The stimulus for the development of NC machine tools was the military’s desire to produce aircraft parts at a high rate of speed and with high quality control. Also, aircraft and missiles were then being developed which used parts that were extremely difficult to make, and it was believed that a machine could do a better job than even the most skilled machinist. The US Air Force, working closely with engineers at MIT and elsewhere, introduced the first “numerically controlled” (NC) machine tools in the late 1940s. These machine tools used technologies derived from the computer to control the motions of the machine in accordance with a predetermined program. An NC-equipped machine tool could be conveniently reprogrammed whenever necessary, avoiding the inflexibility that was seen as the major pitfall of Detroit automation. Although the early machines did not completely eliminate human labor, they approached the ideal. Later, engineers distinguished these NC tools from so-called computer numerical control (CNC), which received instructions from a general-purpose computer, often linked to the tool by wires. CNC is the standard technology used today, although its commercial success was slow in coming. While the aircraft industry, largely because of military support, widely adopted NC and CNC machine tools by the 1960s, few other industries followed it. Few consumer products were as profitable as aircraft parts, making NC/CNC tools too expensive.
There was a great resistance to the adoption of NC and CNC tools for other reasons as well. Labor unions saw these technologies as a threat and forecasted massive technological unemployment. The public’s reaction to the threat of automated factories was generally unfavorable. So powerful was the idea of automation that the image of the “push button factory” of the near future became a cliché in movies and the popular press in the 1950s. In the auto industry and elsewhere, unions were able to reach a compromise with managers, allowing automated equipment to be installed in factories while preserving the wages and hours of most workers. The new factories qualitatively degraded the work experience for many highly skilled machinists and greatly reduced the need for them over the long term. Other types of automated equipment did eliminate some of the simplest assembly and materials-handling tasks, leading to some loss of jobs. However, automated production machinery eventually reduced costs and improved the quality of many items.
Outside the automobile and aircraft industries, automation of another sort also began to emerge in the early twentieth century. Engineers in the chemical industries, where it was common to employ complex, continuously operating processes, developed a form of automation beginning in the 1930s.
There large-scale reactions such as the “cracking” of petroleum were monitored and controlled from centralized control rooms. Sensors and actuators, often in the form of pneumatically operated devices, connected the control room to the plant itself. Despite great differences between the chemical and metalworking industries, engineers by the 1940s also described this as part of the same general automation movement. Similarly, the growing size and complexity of electric power plants in the post-1945 period stimulated experiments with centralized control of the boilers, steam turbines, generators, and switch gear associated with the stations. Relying on pneumatic or electrical controls, the power industry thus also developed a distinctive variety of automation. With the advent of nuclear power in the 1950s, the design of this type of centralized automation reached a high state. The control room of a nuclear plant, filled with switches and dials, became an easily recognized symbol of the industry by the 1970s, when many such plants were in operation. There were also no industrial applications of automation. A prime example is the sorting of mail, which was done almost entirely by hand until the 1950s. The Post Office sponsored a far-reaching program to automate sorting processes, installing its first semiautomatic mail sorter in Baltimore in 1956. By 1965, the Post Office had installed its first optical character recognition device, which allowed a machine to sort some letters according to their city, state, and ZIP code.
An example of the eventual convergence of Detroit-style automation and electronic computing is the development of the industrial robot. Long a feature of science fiction, the first robots were merely arm like mechanical devices, specially designed to handle one particular task. Their utility was limited to applications where high temperature or other factors made it impossible or dangerous for people to perform the same tasks. However, programmable robots appeared as early as 1954, when Universal Automation offered its first product, the Unimation robot. Although General Motors installed such a robot on a production line in 1962, sales of robots were quite limited until the 1970s. During the 1960s, many universities took place in the development of robots, and although many concepts carried over into the industrial robotics field, these did not immediately result in commercial adoption.
It was Japanese companies that moved rapidly into robot utilization in the 1970s. Kawasaki Corporation purchased the Unimation robot technology, and by 1990 forty companies in Japan were manufacturing industrial robots. The shock accompanying the rapid penetration of the domestic auto market by Japanese auto companies led American corporate leaders to adopt Japanese methods, speeding up the diffusion of industrial robotics in the United States.
I Read the text about types of automation and find answers to the following questions:
1. What are the types of automation?
2. What does computer-aided manufacturing include?
3. What machines are called direct numerical controlled machines?
4. What does computer-aided process planning mean?
5. What are robots used for?
6. What are the functions of a computer-intergraded manufacturing?
Types of Automation
Automation can play a major role in increasing productivity and reducing costs in service industries. Automation is most prevalent in manufacturing industries. In recent years, the manufacturing field has witnessed the development of major automation alternatives. Some of these types of automation include:
• Information technology (IT)
• Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
• Numerically controlled (NC) equipment
• Flexible manufacturing systems (FMS)
• Computer integrated manufacturing (CIM)
Information technology (IT) encompasses a broad spectrum of computer technologies used to create, store, retrieve, and spread information. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) refers to the use of computers in the different functions of production planning and control. CAM includes the use of numerically controlled machines, robots, and other automated systems for the manufacture of products. Computer-aided manufacturing also includes computer-aided process planning (CAPP), group technology (GT), production scheduling, and manufacturing flow analysis. Computer-aided process planning (CAPP) means the use of computers to generate process plans for the manufacture of different products. Group technology (GT) is a manufacturing philosophy that aims at grouping different products and creating different manufacturing cells for the manufacture of each group. Numerically controlled (NC) machines are programmed versions of machine tools that perform operations in sequence on parts or products. Individual machines may have their own computers for that purpose; such tools are commonly referred to as computerized numerical controlled (CNC) machines. In other cases, many machines may share the same computer; these are called direct numerical controlled machines. Robots are a type of automated equipment that may perform different tasks that are normally handled by a human operator. In manufacturing, robots are used to handle a wide range of tasks, including assembly, welding, painting, loading and unloading of heavy or dangerous materials, inspection and testing, and finishing operations.
Flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) are comprehensive systems that may include numerically controlled machine tools, robots, and automated material handling systems in the manufacture of similar products or components using different routings among the machines.
A computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) system is one in which many manufacturing functions are linked through an integrated computer network. These manufacturing or manufacturing-related functions include production planning and control, shop floor control, quality control, computer-aided manufacturing, computer-aided design, purchasing, marketing, and other functions. The objective of a computer-integrated manufacturing system is to allow changes in product design, to reduce costs, and to optimize production requirements.
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