Automation refers to the implementation of technology that reduces the need for manual labour and allows technology to make automatic decisions based on computer algorithms. Automation usually involves replacing workers with computer technology, leading to higher labour productivity. The advantage for firms is that it can reduce the cost of running a business. It may also involve greater safety. Rather than sending humans into dangerous spots like in a volcano, robots or computers can be used to take the risk out of certain practices.
Examples of automation include
- A supermarket ordering stock using a computer model of trends and past history rather than a manager deciding what to order.
- Self-driving cars. Cars which use technology, cameras and artificial intelligence to drive. Though self-driving cars are not without risk of crashing, they can be set up with a higher standard of safety than your average human driver, who will get tired and make mistakes.
- Replacing a railway official making a statement over a tannoy about trains and replacing with computerised voices to give information based on electronic timetables.
- Computers running safety equipment. For example, rather than rely on manual checks of car tyres, computer sensors can alert a driver when tyre pressure is falling. Also, trains can be fixed with automatic braking systems so even if a driver runs a red light, the braking system kicks in and other trains are stopped.
- Telephone switchboards running on voice recognition software and pre-programmed options rather than human operators. Rather than speak to an operator, when you ring you are given different choices and say or write in your pin code.
- Robotic lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners – rather than humans to clean.
- Using google translate rather than an actual translator.