Brief History of Automation

Automation, within the world of manufacturing, can be traced all the way back from using basic pneumatic and hydraulic systems to robotics in the present day. Automation has allowed many of the manual operations done for many years via human labor to be done by assembly machines.

The Ford Motor Company first introduced manufacturing products with assembly machines in 1913. Prior to this, cars were constructed via a handful of skilled laborers. This stroke of genius cut the production time to produce one car down from one car every 12 hours to one car every 1.5 hours.

During the 1930’s, Japan became a leader in the world of manufacturing and the use of assembly machines. One Japanese company built a highly accurate electrical timer, as well as the first micro-switch and protective relays. The rest of the world of manufacturing was quick to adapt to these new technological advances.

The years 1939 to 1945, during the period of the Second World War, saw an increase in assembly machines creating everything from fighter airplanes, tanks, to warships. After the war, the United States assisted Japan in rebuilding efforts bringing new technology that spilled over into the world of automation and assembly machines.

Japan soon became a leader in automation, particularly when it came to manufacturing automobiles. Nissan, Toyota, and Honda -- all of which are still popular to this day -- all became known for producing high quality cars that were reliable. The process of automation allowed them to produce cars with standard features that were considered to be extras in other car brands. The money saved in automation allowed them to sell their cars at prices many other car companies that used outdated manufacturing processes could not beat. Japan continues to be a leader in the car industry, exporting their automobiles to a worldwide audience.

Today, automation continues to benefit a number of other industries including computers, robotics, and electronic components. Computers control virtually every part of the process of automation. At one point in time, it was only large companies that could afford the luxury of a computer, as they were too large and complicated to maneuver. One computer took up space in an entire room and needed highly specialized technicians to ensure they did their job. Nowadays, computers have been scaled down to be portable devices that work as laptops, cellular phones, and notebooks. Similar to the automobile, automation has made computers much more affordable for the general public.

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