What is automation.

To refresh or inform: This is what automation is all about.

It often happens that terms are already so established that they are not even explained anymore. Thus, the answer to the question of what automation actually is is usually simply assumed. But is the term really so self-explanatory? As we all know, it never hurts to get to the bottom of things: Therefore, we have gathered some instructive details about automation below. The spectrum ranges from etymology to milestones in the history of technology to current innovations in linear technology.

1. Automation is a real classic

What is automation.

Since ancient times, people have been concerned with the question of how processes can be automated. The ancient Greek term Automatia translates as "the one who comes by herself" or "the self-moving one". One of the pioneers of early automation is the engineer Heron of Alexandria. The inventor, also known as "Mechanicus", became famous for his design of a door opening mechanism in an Alexandrian temple. While the faithful thought in awe that they were witnessing the workings of the gods, clever and – above all – human art was at work instead.

Even today, Heron's ideas for automation are more than worth seeing: Next to said temple, under a sacrificial fire, there was a container half-filled with water. Inside, the air, which was also contained, expanded due to the heat of the fire, whereupon the water flowed into another container by means of a hose. On this one, in turn, there were rollers and chains connected to the doors. The heavier the pot became and sank down, the more the doors opened. On the other hand, when the fire was extinguished, negative pressure was the result. Thus the doors closed again by the returning water.

2. In modern times, automation really takes off

What is automation.

Despite the original inventions of the Greeks, automation was not yet used by them to make work easier. Aristotle's wish for a tool that could "do the work it is supposed to do by command, or even by anticipation" was not fulfilled. Only in the 18. The next milestones in automation came in the 19th century: First, in 1745, Edmund Lee created a design that ensured windmills could turn completely independently. Previously, windmills had to be manually adjusted according to the wind direction. Now the "wind rose" made a self-regulating adjustment possible.

Of course, the invention of another Englishman was epoch-making. Edmond Cartwright created the Power Loom in 1784 – the first ever steam-powered loom. In general, the steam engine caused a real revolution in industrial production. The power of humans or animals was no longer a limiting factor. It was now possible, thanks to automation, to produce goods that had previously seemed unthinkable. In the second industrial revolution came the use of the assembly line. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) ushered in the third phase.

3. Computers take automation even further

Finally, the current level of automation – Industry 4.0 – the remarkable evolution of a basic idea that leads back to the dawn of European civilization. In Industry 4.0, by the way, a significant shift has taken place: Whereas the focus used to be on the individual machine, now it's the interconnectivity that everything depends on. Thanks to intelligent data processing and transmission, individual products can be manufactured with the cost advantages of machine-based series production.

However, the advantages of modern software for automation can also be seen beyond the spectacular robots. Linear technology, one of the common solutions for industrial automation, is a good example of this. Intelligent linear technology software is now available that takes a lot of the work out of the user's hands. Based on a few specifications, the software puts together an individual linear solution. However, not only selection and design are taken into account – another program provides active support during commissioning.

What is automation.

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