1. Automation is the third phase in the development of technology that began with the industrialization of the 18th century. First came mechanization which created the factory system and separated labour and management in production. Mechanization was a technology based on forms and applications of power. Mass production came next. It was a technology based on principles of production and organization. Automation is a technology based on communication, computation and control.
2. The truly automated devices must possess one or more of the following elements: system approach, programmability, feedback.
3. With a system approach, factories which make things by passing them through successive stages of manufacturing without people intervening to transfer lines, which made their debut in car factories before the Second World War, are considered automated systems. These carry components past lines of machine-tools which each cuts them automatically. People are not required; the machines clamp the parts out of themselves without a workman being present. Thus transfer lines are different from assembly lines where people are very much in evidence.
4. With programmability, a system can do more than one kind of job. An industrial robot is an automated machine. It works automatically and an operator can reprogram the computer that controls it to make the machine do different things.
5. Finally, feedback makes an automatic device vary its routine according to changes that take place around it. An automatic machine-tool with feedback would have sensors that detect, for example, if the metal it is cutting is wrongly shaped. If it is, the sensors instruct the machine to vary its routine accordingly. Other examples of devices with feedback are robots with "vision" or other sensors that can "see" or "feel" what they are doing.
6. Most examples of automation in factories today are not "programmable"; neither do they work with feedback. They are simply sets of machine-tools linked together according to "systems" approach. These mechanisms are inflexible. They turn out only one kind of part, which is all very well if the manufacturer wants to make thousands of identical components. But if he wants to change his routine, the machinery is not very useful. This is the case while automation is inflexible, flexible automation is on the way. Here, automated machinery has programmability and feedback and can turn out different kinds of components. The equipment will make a tremendous difference to factory floors throughout the world. Flexible automation adds up to a new industrial era.
Пояснення до тексту:
system approach -системний підхід
feedback - Зворотній зв'язок
successive stages -послідовні стадії
to count -думати, вважати
to clamp -закріплювати
routine -режим роботи
to detect -виявляти
to turn out -точити, обточувати
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What is the shortage of automation?
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