AUTOMATION AND RATIONALISATION
There is a difference between rationalization and automation.
Rationalization refers to doing things on a rational and scientific basis .If the loan application of a customer in a branch of a bank is considered by the branch manager himself and not forwarded in a time consuming and wasteful procedure to the head office ,this is Rationalization
Rationalization and Automation are independent to each other. The involvement in increasing and large-scale use of machinery and the consequent displacement of labor is called Automation.
It is possible to conceive of rationalization taking place in an establishment without any significant resort to automation and capital-intensive devices .Both will depend upon the nature of the technological development and the considerations which are consciously brought to bear upon practical policy in the matter of the choice of techniques
Scope of Automation
Automation may be applied to almost all the activitiesâ€”to manufacturing ,insurance, banks ,wholesale and retail distribution communications, educational institutions and so-forth. The only exception is a firm which is faced with seasonalityâ€”where production consists of short runs of varying items or where operators lead the machines and apply a great deal of skill and judgement Add to this factor, the inability of smaller firms to raise money easily and the lack of specialized staff assistanceâ€”then automation recedes still further as a goal.
Proliferation of Automation
The field of automation is mushrooming, particularly I the advanced countries .In the US for example, the number of robots increased from 100,000 in 1990 to 19,000 in 1995.The US is far behind Japan in this respect. The Japanese manufacturers of automated production systems are much ahead of their US counterparts.
The mushrooming of industrial automation has brought a myriad of automation machines with diverse features. Particular emphasis needs to be made about machine attachment numerically controlled (NC) machines, robots, automated quality control ,inspections, automated identification systems (AIS) and automated Process controls.
Table below describes each type with examples
Numerically Controlled (NC Machines )
Types of machines
These machines are pre-programmed through microcomputers to perform a cycle of operations repeatedly. The machine have a control system that reads the instructions and then translates them into machine operations. Machine settings are achieved by the control system rather than by human beings.
In computer numerically controlled machines (CNC) ,information storage is transferred from the punched tape to the flexible memory of a computer.
Advantage of CNC machines Over NC machines
1. Instructions may be stored and handled more efficiently with a data cartridge or floppy disc memory.
2. The microcomputer system may be programmed to perform functions ,beyond simple controlling of the machines.
3. Real-time and off-line diagnostic possibilities may be built into the CNC system.
4. Machining data and operator instructions may be displayed on a screen as part of the system.
Direct Numeric Control also known as Distributed Numerical Control(DNC) places a battery of machines under the control of a single computer (Central main frame computer) Machines can be different types and programmed to carry out different tasks.
The central main frame computer supplies the part programs to the individual CNC machines through communication lines which also provide for feedback of production and machine tool status from the shop floor.
DNC system provide rapid, real-time feedback on problems as they occur enabling immediate corrective action to be initiated. The ability to store massive data on programs and to retrieve the data quickly is another significant advantage of DNC systems.
These are usually inexpensive add- ons to machines that reduce the amount of Human effort and time required to perform an operation. These appendage represent the oldest technology in the automation and generally found in all production systems.