Automation of Production
Automation of Production
a process in the development of mechanized production in which the control and monitoring functions previously performed by humans are transferred to instruments and automatic devices. Automation of production is the basis of the development of modern industry and a general trend in technical progress. Its goal is to improve the efficiency of labor and the quality of manufactured products and to create conditions for the optimum utilization of all production resources. Partial, integrated, and total automation of production are distinguished.
Partial automation of production is defined more precisely as automation of specific production operations and is achieved in those cases where process control is practically inaccessible to human effort because of the complexity or rapidity of the process and where simple automatic devices can effectively replace human labor. As a rule, working production equipment is partially automated. As automation equipment is perfected and its range of application is expanded, partial automation is found to be most effective where the manufacturing equipment is designed to be automated from the outset. Partial automation includes automation of control operations.
In integrated automation of production, the production section, the production shop, the plant, or the electric power station functions as a unified interrelated automated complex. Integrated automation of production encompasses all of the basic functions of the enterprise, farm, or service. It is feasible only in the case of highly developed production based on modern technology and sophisticated methods of control using highly reliable production equipment acting according to a prespecified or self-adaptive program. The human function is limited to overall monitoring and control of the entire complex.
Total automation of production is the highest stage of automation. It provides for the transfer of all functions involving control and monitoring of complex automated production to automatic control systems. Total automation of production is instituted when the line of production to be automated is practicable and stable, production conditions remain practically unchanged, and possible deviations can be taken into account beforehand; total automation is also used in inaccessible situations or where conditions are hazardous to human health or life.
Factors determining the degree of automation are primarily cost and feasibility under specific production conditions. Automation of production does not imply a complete displacement of human workers by automatons, but the direction of human labor activities and the nature of the human-machine interaction do undergo changes. Human labor acquires new qualitative nuances, becoming more complex and meaningful. The emphasis in human labor activities is transferred to technical servicing of automatic machinery and analytic and administrative activities.
The work done by a single worker becomes just as important as the work done by an entire subdivision (production section, production shop, laboratory). With the change in the nature of labor, the content of workers’ skills changes simultaneously. Many old professions based on heavy physical labor are eliminated. The proportion of scientific and technical workers in production increases rapidly, since they are needed not only to keep the complicated equipment functioning normally but also to devise and design new and more sophisticated equipment.
Automation of production is one of the basic factors in the modern scientific and technical revolution which is opening up unprecedented opportunities for mankind to transform nature, to create enormous material wealth, and to multiply the creative capabilities of humanity. However, capitalism, as was pointed out in the basic document of the International Conference of Communist and Labor Parties (June 1969, Moscow), utilizes these opportunities to increase profits and to intensify the exploitation of the working people. Automation of production, while perfected in form under the conditions prevailing in capitalist society, remains in essence a means of exploitation and is directed primarily toward maximum utilization of equipment and objects of labor in the interests of monopolistic capital and safeguarding its domination.
Rapid nervous exhaustion of workers, a considerable lag in the rise of wages behind the rise in labor productivity, and intensification of labor lead to the reproduction of social antagonisms and to the engendering of new contradictions. First and foremost, there is the contradiction between the unusual opportunities opened up by the scientific and technical revolution and the obstacles that capitalism places in the path of their use in the interests of society as a whole by diverting the bulk of the discoveries of science and enormous material resources to military purposes and squandering national wealth. The increasing alienation of the worker, his subordinate position with respect to the automated machine, oppression on the part of the entire capitalist administrative system—all of this stimulates increased protest on the part of workers in capitalist countries against automation of production.
Automation of production under socialist conditions is one of the basic methods of developing the national economy. Thanks to the socialist nature of property, planned organization of production, and the active participation of manual workers and intellectual workers in the management and control of the economy, optimum utilization of opportunities to speed up economic development and satisfy most fully the needs of all the members of society becomes a realistic prospect. These opportunities came to light as a result of the scientific and technical revolution. In the USSR automation of production not only brings about maximum savings, while creating a wealth of material and cultural value for society, but also acts gradually to wipe out, by means of full employment, the differences between physical and intellectual labor.
History of the development of automation of production. Self-acting devices, prototypes of modern automated machinery, made their appearance in remote antiquity. However, because only small-scale artisan and handicraft production prevailed up to the 18th century, they could find no practical application and consequently remained at the level of interesting “toys,” attesting only to the high level of craftsmanship attained by the ancient masters. The improvement of tools and methods of labor and the adaptation of machinery and mechanisms to replace human activity in production processes brought about an abrupt leap in the level and scale of production in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This is known as the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The industrial revolution created the necessary conditions for mechanizing production in spinning, weaving, metalworking, and woodworking. K. Marx saw in this process a basically new direction of technical progress and prompted the transition from using individual machines to an “automatic system of machinery,” in which the human would be performing the cognitive functions of control. The human would act in unison with the production process as its inspector and operator. The most important inventions of this period were the inventions by the Russian mechanic I. I. Polzunov, who invented an automatic regulator for supplying feed water to a steam boiler (1765), and the English inventor J. Watt, who invented the centrifugal governor for controlling the speed of a steam engine (1784), which later became the basic source of mechanical energy for driving machine tools, machinery, and mechanisms.
In the 1860’s, with the rapid development of railroads, the need became evident for automation of railway transportation and above all for the invention of automatic devices to monitor train speeds for safety purposes. Some of the first inventions of that time to appear in Russia were an automatic speed indicator devised by the mechanical engineer S. Praus (1868) and a device for automatically recording train speeds, the time of arrival, duration of the stop, time of departure, and the location of trains developed by the engineer V. Zal’man and the mechanic O. Graftio (1878). Some idea of the extent to which automatic devices were used in railroad practice can be gained from the fact that a “mechanical train control” division was in existence on the Moscow-Brest Railroad as early as 1892.
Until the 19th century, automatic devices were studied within the framework of classical applied mechanics, which treated them as isolated mechanisms of special interest. The foundations of the science of automatic control were first expounded in essence in the article by the British physicist J. C. Maxwell “On Control” (1868) and in the work by the Russian scientist I. A. Vyshnegradskii On Directaction Controllers (1877), in which the operator and the machine were approached for the first time as one system. A. Stodola, Ia. I. Grdina, and N. E. Zhukovskii, in developing this work, systematically expounded the theory of automatic control.
With the appearance of electric motors and such mechanical sources of electrical energy as DC and AC electrical generators (dynamos, alternators), centralized power generation and power transmission over long distances, with differentiated power consumption at the consumer end, became possible. It was at this time that the need arose for automatic stabilization of generator voltage, without which the industrial applications of generators would be limited. Only after the invention of voltage regulators, in the early 20th century, did electric power begin to be used to drive production equipment. In addition to steam engines, whose energy was distributed by transmission shafts and belt drives on machine tools, electric power driving devices gradually came into use, at first displacing steam engines in rotating power transmission assemblies, later coming into individual use; that is, machine tools began to be equipped with their own electric motors.
The transition from central transmission drives to separate power drives in the 1920’s opened up a vast arena for improving machine technology and increasing economic savings. The simplicity and reliability of separate electric power drives made it possible not only to mechanize the power supply of machine tools but also to control the tools. It was on this basis that various types of automatic machine tools, multiposition unit head machine tools, and transfer lines came into being and underwent development. The widespread use of automated electric power drives in the 1930’s not only contributed to the mechanization of many facets of industry but in essence laid the foundation for modern automation of production. In fact it was in the 1930’s that the term “automation of production” arose.
In the USSR the incorporation of automated means of controlling and regulating production processes began simultaneously with the establishment of heavy industry and machine building and was carried out in accordance with Communist Party and Soviet government decisions on industrialization and mechanization of production. A committee on automatic control was set up in 1930 on the initiative of G. M. Krzhizhanovskii at the Main Power Center of the High Council of the National Economy of the USSR to guide work in automation in the nation’s power industry. An office of automation and mechanization of electrotechnical plants was set up in the administration of the All-Union Electrical Engineering Association (VEO) in 1932. The use of automated equipment in heavy industry, light industry, and the food-processing industry was initiated, and transportation automation was improved. In addition to separate automatic units, conveyor belt systems with coercive rhythmic motion were installed in plants manufacturing specialized machinery. The All-Union Precision Industry Association (VOTI) was organized to deal with production and installation of monitoring and control instruments.
Automatic control laboratories were created at the research institutes of the power, metallurgical, chemical, and machine-building industries and of public works institutions. Industry-wide and all-Union meetings and conferences were held on the prospective use of automatic control. Engineering-economic studies were begun on the significance of automation of production in the development of industry under different social conditions. In 1935 the Commission on Remote Control and Automation began operations, under the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, in order to generalize and coordinate scientific research work in this area. Publication of the periodical Avtomatika i telemekhanika (Automatic and Remote Control) began.
In 1936, D. S. Harder (USA) defined automation as the “automatic manipulation of parts between different stages of the production process.” It appears that this term was first used to denote the connecting of machine tools to automatic equipment for feeding and preparing materials. Later, Harder extended the term’s meaning to cover any operation in the production process.
The high savings, the technological feasibility, and, frequently, operational needs contributed to the wide acceptance of automation in industry, transportation, communications, commerce, and in various areas of public services. Its basic prerequisite is the more effective utilization of such economic resources as power, raw materials, equipment, labor, and capital investments. Quality and uniformity of production improve, and the reliability of installations and equipment is enhanced.
The socialist state regards automation of production as one of the most powerful tools available for the development of the national economy and carries it out according to a unified and integrated plan correlated with appropriate allocation of funds and ample supplies of materials and resources.
The Eighteenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), held in 1939, in summing up the achievements of the technical rebuilding of industry and in determining the tasks in the further development of the principal branches of the national economy, focused its attention on the widespread use of automated machine tools in the machine-building and light industries, on automation of electric power stations, on the most important products in the chemical industry, and on the use of monitor and control instruments in the food industry. The first plants manufacturing instruments and equipment for automatic and remote control functions in the automation of production were built during the first three five-year plans of development of the national economy (1928–41). During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), automation of production acquired great significance by keeping the front supplied with technical and raw materials and by satisfying the needs of the USSR’s defense industry. The first postwar plan of reconstruction and development of the national economy (1946–50) envisaged further automation in the power, chemical, oil, and petrochemical industries and the widespread introduction of automated electric power drives. The program of further developing automation of production, covering the 1953–58 period, adopted at the Nineteenth Congress of the CPSU, envisaged specifically the mechanization of production operations and automation of production at ferrous metallurgy plants, in mining, and in machine building, as well as the complete automation of hydroelectric power plants.
In practical terms, the 1950’s saw the acceptance of automation of production in all major branches of the USSR national economy. Automatic transfer lines began to function in the machine-building industry—in the manufacture of tractors, automobiles, and farm machinery. An automated plant for manufacturing pistons for automotive engines went into operation. The conversion of aggregates in hydroelectric power plants to automatic control was completed, and many hydroelectric power plants became totally automated. Boiler shops were automated in some of the larger thermal and power plants. In the metal industry, about 95 percent of the cast iron and 90 percent of the steel were being smelted in automated furnaces. The first automated rolling mills went into service. Automated facilities were started at petroleum refineries; remote control of gas pipelines was instituted. Many water supply systems were automated. Automated concrete-producing plants went into operation. Light industry and the food industry acquired many varied types of semiautomatic and automatic machinery for weighing out, batching, and wrapping products and for automatic transfer lines. The total amount of automatic processing equipment increased by a factor of 10 between 1940 and 1953. Program-controlled machine tools appeared in the metalworking industry. Rotary transfer lines were being used in mass production. Remote process control became widespread in chemical industries subject to explosion hazards.
The Twenty-first Congress of the CPSU (1959) singled out, as a major goal in the development of the national economy, the conversion to integrated automation processes, enterprises, and production, while taking note of the feasibility of using electronic computers to control complicated automated production. The Twenty-second Congress of the CPSU (1961) defined integrated automation of production as the principal method of overall development of the national economy during the construction of the material and technical base of communism. After the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU (1966), the automation of production plan became a component part of the overall national economy plan.
Methods of automation of production. The scientific fundamentals of automation of production are being developed primarily along three distinct lines. First, methods are being worked out for effectively studying the rules governing objects of control, their dynamics, stability, and dependence on external factors. These problems are being solved by research scientists, designers, and production specialists in specific branches of science and industry. Complicated processes and objects are being studied by the methods of physical and mathematical models and operations research, using analogue and digital computers.
Second, the scientific bases of automation determine economically feasible control methods and carefully formulate the purpose and evaluation functions of the control and the choice of the most effective dependence between the measured and controlling parameters of the process. Rules for accepting control solutions are arrived at on that basis as well as the strategy governing the production managers, while taking into account the findings of economic studies designed to single out the efficient control system behavior. The concrete goals of the control system depend on engineering and economic considerations, social conditions, and other factors. These involve maximization of productivity; stabilization of product quality; maximum utilization of fuel, raw materials, and. equipment; maximum volume of products successfully marketed; and minimization of expenses per unit product.
Third, there is the task of devising engineering techniques for the simplest, most reliable, and most efficient realization of the structure and design of automation equipment performing the specified functions of measuring, data processing, and exercising control. The theory of algorithms, the theory of automatons, mathematical logic, and the theory of relay-control devices all come into play in developing effective control structures and hardware. Many processes of calculation, design, and testing of control devices have been automated with the aid of computer technology. Optimization of solutions and data acquisition, transmission, and processing have been based on the methods of information theory. Centralized (integrated) data processing techniques are employed when large flows of information have to be used for a variety of purposes and functions.
The control structure, optimally selected for achieving the specified goals, combined with the complex of technical equipment (measuring, control, executive, data accumulating and processing equipment of all types, and so on) interacting with the object of control and the human being (operator, dispatcher, controller, section head), constitutes an automated control system (ACS) based on intelligently constructed forms and flow of information. In the USSR, a systematic approach to construction and utilization of the complex of automation equipment for measuring and control functions and the widespread integration of this equipment within the framework of the state system of industrial instruments and automation equipment (GSP) became the groundwork of state policy in the field of automation of production.
The modern automated control system includes primary shaping devices, devices for automatic extraction and transmission of data and for logic and mathematical data processing, devices for displaying results, devices for generating control functions, and execution devices. The GSP groups all these devices together by functional, informational, and design-technological criteria, forming unit sets from which the necessary integrated complexes of automation equipment can be formed on the basis of a unified inventory of components.
Socialist countries in collaboration with the USSR, united in the Council for Economic Mutual Aid (COMECON), are participating in the design and manufacture of unified aggregate components. The jointly created unified system of automatic monitoring, regulation, and control equipment (URS) agrees with the GSP in all the basic parameters.
Technical equipment for automation of production. Keyboard instruments for transferring data onto cards, tape, or other carriers of information by mechanical (punching) or magnetic means are among the types of equipment for shaping and primary processing of data; the information accumulated is passed on for further processing or playback. Devices recording production for local or systemwide use, which shape the primary information in shops, at warehouses, and at other production sites, are formed from keyboard instruments, punching and magnetic units, and transmitters.
Transducers (primary converters) are used to extract data automatically. Transducers are devices that, by a variety of operating principles, respond to changes in the control process. Modern measuring technology is capable of directly evaluating over 300 different physical, chemical, and miscellaneous variables, but even this will not be sufficient for automating some of the new domains of human activity. Economically feasible expansion of the number of transducers in the GSP system is being achieved through standardization of sensors. Sensors responding to pressure, force, weight, velocity, acceleration, sound, light, heat radiation, and radioactivity are being used in transducers to monitor the load and work rate of equipment and the quality of processing, to keep tabs on the number of products manufactured, to monitor the progress on conveyor belts, to keep track of reserves of materials, and to monitor the amount of material—stock, tools, and so forth—that is used. The output signals from all these transducers are converted into standard electrical or pneumatic signals, which are transmitted to other devices.
Data transmitting devices include transducers converting signals to forms of energy suitable for transmission, remote-control equipment for transmitting signals over a long-haul communication lines, and commutators for distributing signals between data processing points or for display of information. These devices connect all the peripheral sources of information (keyboard devices, transducers) with the central part of the control system. Their purpose is to use communication channels effectively, remove signal distortions, and eliminate the effect of possible noise in transmission over wire and wireless lines.
Function generators that alter the shape, pattern, or combination of data signals are some of the devices used in logical and mathematical data processing, as are devices designed to process information according to specified algorithms (this includes computers) in order to achieve certain control (regulation) laws and modes.
Computers for communication with other parts of the control system are provided with data input and output devices, as well as memory devices for temporary storage of initial data, intermediate and final computation results, and so forth.
Data display devices show the human operator the state of production processes and record the most important process parameters. Devices of this type are a signal panel, a mimic diagram with visual symbols on the control panels or control desks, secondary dial and digital display and recording instruments, cathode-ray tubes, and alphanumeric printout machines.
Devices for generating control functions convert weak data signals into higher power pulses of the shape required to energize protection, regulation, or control actuators.
Higher product quality is related to automation of all basic stages in the production process. Subjective estimates by the human operator are replaced by objective criteria of automatic measuring stands connected to the central point, where the source of defect is determined and where commands are sent out to prevent deviations beyond the prescribed range. Computerized automatic monitoring has acquired great importance in the production of radio and electronic parts and components because of the mass production conditions and the large number of process variables to be monitored. Reliability tests run on finished products are no less important. Automated test stands for functional, durability, climatic, power, and specialized tests make it possible to inspect technical and cost characteristics of components (products) rapidly and consistently.
The actuators consist of the starting equipment; hydraulic, pneumatic, or electrical actuators (servomecha-nisms); and controllers acting directly upon the process to be automated. It is important that their operation cause no conditional power losses or cut the efficiency of the process. For example, throttling, which is usually used to control streams of vapor and liquid and is based on increasing hydraulic resistance in pipes, is replaced by action taken on the machinery forming the flow or by some other more sophisticated methods for altering the flow velocity without loss of head. Economical and reliable control of AC electric power drives, the use of electrical actuators with no intervening speed reduction gear boxes, and contactless starting equipment for control of electric motors have also become important.
The concept of designing devices for monitoring, regulation, and control in the form of aggregates consisting of independently acting units carrying out specified processes, as realized in the GSP system, has made it possible to obtain a wide range of devices, by various combinations of these units, suitable for solving diverse problems using the same basic equipment. Unification of input and output signals makes it possible to combine the units with various functions and to take advantage of their unit interchangeabil-ity.
The GSP includes pneumatic, hydraulic, and electrical instruments and devices. The electrical devices designed for acquisition, transmission, and reproduction of data are the most versatile devices of that type.
The universal system of industrial pneumatic automatic control components (USEPPA) has made it possible to reduce the development of pneumatic instruments to the assembly of those instruments from standard modules and components with a small number of connections. Pneumatic devices are widely used for process monitoring and control in many lines of production where fire and explosion hazards are a problem.
Hydraulic devices in the GSP are also assembled from units. Hydraulic instruments and devices control equipment needed to move controllers at high speed with great force and high accuracy, which is especially important in machine tools and on automatic transfer lines.
Devices in the GSP are combined into aggregate complexes to achieve a more rational systematization of GSP equipment and greater production efficiency in the manufacture of those devices, as well as to simplify design and supplying of parts for automated process control systems. Aggregate complexes, thanks to the standardization of input and output parameters and the block component design, can be used most reliably, effectively, and economically by combining various types of technical equipment in automated process control systems, and make it possible to assemble various types of specialized facilities from units of general-purpose automatic control components.
Proper integration of analytic equipment, testing machines, mass measuring devices with unified components for measuring and computing, technology, and office mechanization facilitates and speeds up the creation of basic designs for this equipment and the specialization of plants in its manufacture.
Management of territorially dispersed plants in the gas and oil industry, water supply and irrigation, transportation, communications, meteorological and hydrological services, and other areas depends on the generation of large quantities of textual and measurement data, transmission of that data over long distances, and the concentration of logic and mathematical processing, storage, and distribution.
Systems that aid the automation of management of branches of the national economy include the aggregate complex of equipment for acquisition and primary processing of alphanumeric data (ASPI) combined with complexes of computer technology (ASVT), unit time (ASEV), and production planning (ASOT), together with software. In order to acquire objective information on the quantity and quality of products manufactured, plants are being equipped with complexes of electrical measuring equipment (ASET), durability testing equipment (ASIP), and mass measurement and batching equipment (ASIM). Of great importance for the automated management of production processes are the complexes of monitoring and control equipment (ASKR), analytic equipment (ASAT), and program control (ASPU), which make it possible to carry out production at optimum process efficiency. The interaction of these complexes sets up realistic conditions for automating many technological manufacturing facilities on the basis of precise measurement data on the course of the process in a self-adaptive mode or according to a specified program with corrections for the effect of external conditions and the environment.
Research activities largely depend on appropriate acquisition and rapid and thorough processing of objective and precise information on the composition and structure of materials, the structure and properties of materials, and the power parameters of the processes.
The use of complexes of automated equipment in scientific research institutes and laboratories not only frees researchers from routine operations dealing with the assimilation of available data but also eases the preparation and execution of experiments.
The economic reform instituted in the USSR following the decisions adopted at the September (1965) plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU and at the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU (1966), held that one of the most important preconditions for the development of the national economy is the achievement of the highest labor productivity with each member of society directly interested in attaining the highest effective result. Optimization of plans acquires decisive importance here as the best method for utilizing the real possibilities of production. This task can be realized only through integrated automation of production planning and management in all branches of the national economy. Automation of the technological sector of production alone has proved inadequate, and the necessity has developed to automate the economic activities of the enterprises as well. The construction of such complex technological and economic automated control systems is connected with the radical and scientifically based improvement in the principles of labor organization, technology, and production management.
Integrated automation of production requires a high degree of scientific organization of labor with the wide use of various auxiliary technical equipment at the workplaces of production and management personnel. This includes devices for the preparation, retrieval, storage, and reproduction of documents, drafts and blueprints, and reference materials for mechanizing engineering, technical, and administrative management work; special-purpose furniture and equipment; and so on.
Automation of production in various branches of the national economy. The development of the nation’s productive forces provided for in plans for building communism is based on scientific progress and utilization of the latest scientific discoveries and results of theoretical research and practical study of production technology for developing the most efficient methods of creating material wealth with a minimum expenditure of labor. This accounts for the special care given to the study of continuous production processes whose technology is best adaptable to automation. Thus, water at a hydroelectric power plant flows continuously from the reservoir through the turbines of the hydroelectric power generating units. Automatic regulators ensure the required turbine speed, sustain the specified frequency and voltage of the current generated, and regulate the active and reactive power. Protective devices act to prevent accidents and breakdowns. The automatic operator (autooperator) of the hydroelectric power plant starts and stops power units in the plant according to the load schedule. The remote-controlled devices enable the dispatcher of the power system to monitor the performance of an automatic hydroelectric power plant from a central control point over a long distance. Only in special cases does the dispatcher intervene directly in the control process. Most modern hydroelectric power plants operate in this fashion.
The control of thermoelectric power plants is much more complicated. The boiler-turbine-generator-transformer unit, which has a power rating of several hundred megawatts (MW), consists of a large number of different units handling the preparation and feed of fuel and water, elimination of combustion products, maintenance of correct combustion conditions in the boiler, and all the operations of the turbine, generator, and transformer. Starting and stopping the unit involves carrying out many strictly controlled switching operations of power units, and efficient error-free operation requires interconnected control parameters. (For example, this may mean about 1,000 controlled objects and as many as 1,300 controlled parameters in an 800–MW unit.) It would be an extremely difficult and unreliable procedure to have these processes carried out by the personnel using conventional monitoring and measuring instruments and control devices, since the number of such devices required for a single unit would be staggering. The Kaskad automated control system solves this problem by using a complex of interrelated regulating, computing, blocking, control, and monitoring devices under the supervision of only one operator-engineer.
The world’s first atomic power plant, built in 1954 near Moscow with a power output rating of 5 MW, could not possibly function without complete automation of the nuclear reactor. Not only power control, protection and shielding, and all other processes of reactor facilities are automated at large nuclear power plants, but also the combined operation of those facilities with the search for optimum operating conditions at each of those facilities separately and at the power plant as a whole.
Effective combined operation of several electric power plants in a large power grid with a large number of transformer substations and a branch high-voltage network of electrical transmission lines extending over hundreds and thousands of kilometers would be unthinkable without integrated automation and remote control. The optimum load distribution between power stations and the direction of power flows to regions with different time zones and corresponding shifts in peak power loads which, in turn, depend on many local hydrometeorological, engineering, and economic factors, require high-speed complicated calculations. In international power grids, integrated automation ensures better utilization of water and fuel resources in the mutual interests of the countries incorporated in the power grid.
Most chemical engineering processes and pipeline transport of raw materials and products are also basically continuous processes. They constitute the basis of all production in the chemical, petrochemical, gas, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in water supply, sewage treatment, and other areas. Here automation is carried out on the processes of (1) compensation of changes in the supply and quality of the raw material, (2) the addition of reagents, (3) regulation of processing technology, and (4) transportation and packing in order to obtain high quality and economic indexes and to prevent accidents. Operations that are automated in these lines of production include starting and stopping pump and compressor installations; opening and closing of valves, flaps, dampers, and other shutoff equipment; control of the operation of crushers, mills, metering devices, settling devices, filters, mixers, heat exchangers, evaporators, coolers, and reactors; and various other technological equipment and their communicating systems. This is achieved through the use of many remote-control monitoring and control devices, local controllers, and complex multi-connected control systems.
Success in the automation of chemical engineering processes is determined to a large extent by the presence of appropriate temperature sensors, level sensors, pressure sensors, flow-rate sensors, and devices sensing the composition and properties of materials being processed and the finished output. The possibility of determining a broad range of indexes for chemical processes and achieving high precision in the selective analysis of those criteria have made the automation of many processes a reality.
High vacuum, high and ultra-high pressures, very low and extremely high temperatures, rapid reaction rates, high humidity, corrosive action of the environment, fire and explosion hazards, and other special properties of materials being processed and of the transport environment are often extremely unfavorable for the operation of automatic control devices. Under such conditions, pneumatic automatic control devices operate especially well—in particular, an aggregate complex of control and monitoring equipment known as Start, combined with other devices. Safe operation is also insured by warning and alarm signaling systems and various fast-acting protective devices. Remote-control devices are highly effective in the control of compressor and pump stations and gate valves on long pipelines.
Control of basic production complexes and structures is centralized at dispatch points where the operational situation (performance of the equipment, direction of flow, emergency state) are observed on a control panel or memory circuit. Planning and operational computations of operating conditions, expenditures, and output are computerized. Analysis and forecasting of the activities of the enterprise are carried out with the participation of technical and economic services. Plants manufacturing explosives, rocket fuels, radioactive materials, and highly toxic chemicals are more totally automated.
Enterprises considered to have continuous production technology are cement plants, concrete plants, and pulp and paper mills. In these enterprises, automation combines all the processes in a single common stream in the most efficient manner, stabilizing product quality and raising the utilization factor of the process equipment. Grain elevators, flour mills, and other similar enterprises are successfully automated. In these cases, monitoring and control devices improve the quality and continous operation of the equipment, while computer technology contributes to lowering production costs.
Research in advanced technology, which renders integrated automation possible, is the principal task in speeding up expansion of production. Thus, in the mining industry, while mechanical methods of breaking rock are being perfected, thermal, electrical, and acoustical methods are being developed, creating favorable conditions for effective automation. Of exceptional importance is the organization of a continuously flowing process of extracting and conveying rocks in deep open-pit mining operations. The development of mechanical production complexes incorporating multibucket excavators, transport bridges, and a link chain of belt conveyors and elevators combined in a single unified automatic control system meets the most adequate requirements of mass-production mining technology. Organizing a complex of reliable continuous-acting machines with a high degree of mechanization for open-pit mining operations is connected with solving many complicated problems in keeping records of materials and supplies, mining mechanics, hydraulics, electrical engineering, dynamics of mining machinery, and design and synthesis of drive mechanisms and actuators for mining machinery. Integrated automation of underground coal mining in pits outfitted with mine-shaft timbering jacked up by hydraulic power and with tunnel driving machines, conveyor belts, and other mechanisms brings about high labor productivity and substantial improvements in working conditions. Automation of production involves not only moving parts but also stationary mechanisms and facilities, the hoisting machinery of the coal-delivery shaft, ventilators, water drainage pumps, electric power substations, boiler rooms, and mechanisms for unloading trucks in the coalpit yard and loading coal onto railway cars. The dispatching service, with its high-frequency signaling mine-shaft network, improves labor safety. Computers help to solve complicated engineering and cost accounting problems rapidly and to improve day-by-day management of the mine shaft.
The physical and technical principles on which the operation of automatic continuous-acting mining machinery is based are also used in designing complexes of machinery for constructing canals, tunnels, railways, highways, pipelines, electric power transmission and communication lines, and other structures involving a large volume of earth-moving work. This has helped to reduce the variety of excavating and dump-transport equipment and to standardize electric and hydraulic power drives as well as many mechanisms, assemblies, and parts of mining and earth-moving machinery, all of which is of great importance in automation of production.
The technology of mineral enrichment also becomes a continuous flow in automation of production. Combining of distinct processes involving crushing, grinding, grading and sorting, dewatering, and other operations into a single continuous stream with automatic controls and monitoring is based on changes in the physical and chemical properties of minerals when acted upon by various mechanical, acoustical, hydromechanical, thermal, magnetic, and electrical forces. Low-cost high-productivity equipment for automatically operated ore processing and enrichment mills has been designed on that basis; this has been instrumental in reducing losses in successive stages of ore processing.
In metallurgy, batch processing of minerals predominates in the existing technology. Nineteenth-century blast-furnace and open-hearth-furnace processes of smelting cast iron and steel persist to this day as the basis of ferrous metallurgy. Even in these cases, however, integrated automation of metal production substantially raises economic indexes. Virtually all of the basic process parameters are measured and regulated automatically in blast production. The rotating stock distributor is controlled automatically, the furnace charge is weighed automatically, and the gas is distributed automatically between the tuyeres. Electronic computers are used to control thermal conditions. The gas flow rate (fuel-air ratio) is automatically stabilized in open-hearth furnaces, and flame reversal is automated. All existing convertors are equipped with automatic pressure control and oxygen rate control systems. Automation of convenor operation using a computerized control system optimizes thermal conditions and increases the amount of metal being smelted within a specified compositional range. Arc furnaces are equipped with automatic systems for regulating oxygen feed, controlling electrodes, and monitoring the temperature of the metal. All electroslag remelting furnaces, as well as vacuum furnaces, are equipped with automatic electrode drop controllers. Continuous steel-casting machines are provided with systems for regulating the metal level in the intermediate sections and crystallizer, controlling the thermal conditions of the continuous ingot, making calibrated cuts, and operating transient control systems. Continuous spectral analysis of the smelting products by automatic spectrophotometers directly at the furnaces is independent of any indirect indexes or delayed results of laboratory analysis and is a great help in optimizing the process. Computers, comparing data obtained from the quantometer and transducers handling other indexes showing the smelting process, act on it, constantly maintaining the high quality of the metal.
The control of the main power drive, screw-down drives, and auxiliary mechanisms in rolling mills is automated. A computerized system for cutting the metal with zero waste is used. Feed and withdrawal of billets into and out of holding furnaces and control of rolling tables, turnovers, and other mechanisms are automated at section mills. Rolling speed is increased appreciably through automation of the loop control process on wire mills. Automatic instruments for monitoring the size and temperature of rolled plates have been installed on continuous hot rolling mills. Heating and withdrawal of skelp and most operations on rolling mills, sizing mills, and reducing mills are automated in tube- and pipe-rolling production. Particularly important tube- and pipe-rolling plants are provided with automated systems for nondestructive quality control of the product while it is still moving through the mill. In addition to increasing production volume, raising labor productivity, and improving working conditions, integrated automation of metallurgical production also raises and stabilizes the quality of the metal.
Integrated automation of production based on total mechanization, scientific organization of labor, and widespread use of advanced technology and computerization constitute the basic trend of technical progress in modern machine building. Warehouse and conveying operations, input controls, cutting and layout of material, working and auxiliary operations on machine tools (setting up and clamping of billets supplying and replacing tools, shifting parts in place during machining and removing the finished ones, readjusting machine tools) are automated. Machining operations are controlled automatically, as is the inspection of products on the machine tools. New automatic machines include automatic machine tools with program control, automatic linear and rotary multioperation machine tools, and rigid and flexible automatic production lines with hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, or combined control systems.
Technical progress usually involves frequent renewal or redesign of the product manufactured. Rigid automatic production lines do not allow for changing the line of fabricated products, and therefore we see the expansion of sectional production lines made up of independent aggregate multioperation machine tools connected by carriers, conveyor belts, and elevators equipped with mechanical “fingers” and “hands.” Groups of such machine tools form sections and parallel production lines. A reserve of parts is provided at each machine tool to keep the main conveyor belt of the production line going; maintenance work on the machine tools and retooling take place without shutting down the line. These machine tools are modular, with interconnected subassemblies in which the power units and carriages are retained, and only the fixtures, tools, and some other parts, depending on the design features of the product, are replaced. In program-controlled metalworking machine tools, total automation of the operating cycle is achieved without impairing the versatility of the machine tool: when parts of different configuration are machined, only the program on the punch or magnetic tape is replaced. The combination of programmed and dynamic control of metal-cutting operations eliminates any need for readjusting the machine tool as a result of incorrect mounting or wear, improves the productivity of the machine tool, and enables a more efficient and complete use of the motor drive.
The effectiveness of machine-building production is determined not only by sharp reductions in the amount of labor needed but also by the extent of materials and power used. The basic processes in existing metalworking technology involve heavy use of metal and wasteful expenditures of power, due to large allowances in casting, sheetwork, forging from stock, metal-cutting operations, and thermal treatment. Automation equipment smooths the way toward more sophisticated production methods, where these losses are greatly curtailed and overall productivity is increased. The technological restructuring of machine building pursues the goal of combining the processes of heating, casting, plastic deformation, heat treatment, mechanical processing, electrical machining, and other forms of machining and assembly with the conveying and inspection processes in order to achieve continuous automated production. Electrophysical and electrochemical processes, the use of powder metallurgy, cermets, plastic-concrete composites, polymers, glass fibers, and other nonmetallic materials in molecular cohesion with metals have provided the groundwork for a more sophisticated technology, providing greater continuity in production and promoting automation of production.
There is great interest in the use of electronic and plasma heating for rapid melting of materials, synthesis of single crystals of ultrahard materials, and thermal treatment of parts in strictly limited volumes and on small surface areas at high temperatures by short-duration heat pulses from high-frequency induction heating units. Controlled crystallization makes it possible to obtain finished products directly from materials in the liquid stage. Using the electrohydraulic effect to shape high-pressure pulses makes it possible to achieve rapid plastic deformation of materials during fabrication of parts by deposition, as well as cold welding of metals. Electroerosive processes replace mechanical machining in many instances, especially when working with special alloys that are recalcitrant to machining by metal-cutting operations. These methods greatly increase the speed and precision of machining and appreciably cut down power costs and metal waste in the form of chips. Machining by methods involving plastic deformation, electrical engineering, electrochemical, chemical, hydraulic, and other, more effective, processes, while sometimes displacing metal-cutting machining in machine-building technology, still does not eliminate the need for making improvements in metal cutting. The development of metal-cutting processes using automated equipment requires scientific bases for increasing speed and precision in lathe work, milling, planing, grinding, and other forms of machining. The study of dynamic and thermal factors in the interaction between the material and the tool determines the optimum condition which must be established by automatic devices.
Final processing of the finished products and the application of protective coatings in the course of the automatic production line involves the technology of electrical polishing, anodizing, cathode sputtering of metals, chemical depositions of metals, and electrical coloring. Modern complex installations for electroplating are also automated.
The automation of assembling processes is one of the most complicated and pressing problems in machine building. It not only produces great savings but also contributes to substantial improvements in the reliability of the manufactured machines, equipment, and instruments since, in this case, the assembling process does not depend on the training of the assembly personnel. However, automated assembly calls for a high degree of interchangeability of parts and subassemblies, with the condition that the features of automated assembly technology are already taken into account during the process of designing the products, machines, equipment, and instruments. Automation is best aided by unit and block designs, printed electrical circuits, widespread utilization of permanent connections based on compression, cold welding and cementation, and also by replacing bolt and screw joints with detachable connections, which are more convenient to use and technologically more sophisticated. Continuous quality control of the assembled units and products is generally observed during automatic assembling operations.
In machine building, as in other branches of industry, automation of production involves not only technology, but also the technical and economic activity of the enterprise: planning, supply of materials and technical equipment, production preparation, accounting, and day-by-day management. For example, in the domain of day-by-day management, accounting and processing of documents for scheduling, shift changes, and inventory of parts, materials, tools, and other items in order to maintain specified levels are all automated. The compilation of optimum quarterly, annual, and prospective production plans with all engineering cost indexes taken into account is also automated.
Industries similar to machine building in the nature of the production processes include the electrical engineering, electronics, and radio industry and also instrument manufacturing. They constitute varieties of discrete production with specific characteristics typical of the processing technology of magnetic, conducting, semiconducting, and insulating materials, as well as electrovacuum technology. The winding work and insulating work, which occupy a special position in these industries, are largely automated; many parts are fabricated by specialized automatic machines, and the assembly operations are carried out on automatic production lines.
Mass production of radio parts, electron tubes, ion instruments, cathode-ray tubes, transistors, printed-circuits, printed assemblies, and printed chassis modules for radio electronic equipment, including those for electronic computers, is completely automated. The fabrication of components for microelectronics, film and solid-state units, and integrated circuits is possible only on the basis of sufficiently flexible and rapidly readjustable equipment allowing transition to various modifications of products and continuous improvement in the technological process.
Local automatic process monitoring and control systems are used in light industry. The technology of most of the processes is being developed in the direction of integrated automation of production, and high-productivity automated equipment and automated systems for computer management of enterprises are being created. In cotton spinning, all processes, from feeding bales to spinning, are automated, and automatic processing lines have been set up in the preparatory-spinning departments in worsted wool and cloth production. Highly efficient automatic weaving equipment and high-speed shuttleless looms are being used. The automation of finishing production in automated mills stems from the development of new methods of bleaching and coloring fibers in the bolt and in the yarn, as well as efficient processes for scrapping and sorting semifinished and finished products. The footwear and haberdashery industries and other branches of light industry now have at their disposal high-productivity automated equipment on which mass production of many different types of products is being carried out.
Automatic block assemblies for the production of synthetic materials and machinery for the production of finished products from local raw materials are being used not only at major chemical, textile, and other combines, but also at small integrated plants manufacturing clothing, footwear, headwear, tableware, and other products. Such complex processes as the formation of artificial fibers, spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing are being replaced by more sophisticated processes, from the automation point of view, such as rolling, stretching, and splicing. Unit automatic production lines, producing synthetic materials and making the necessary assortment of goods from those materials, are capable of meeting the needs of local plants in response to the demand. Programmed control makes possible rapid replacement of styles, trimmings, and other indexes responding to the demands of purchasers. Overhead costs are greatly reduced, and excellent conformity is obtained between the characteristics of the material being produced and the specified indexes of the product being released, which is necessary to sustain high product quality and minimum material waste in production.
Automation of production in the field of public nutrition is an important factor in improving the quality and nutritional properties of foodstuffs. The development of automatic facilities for direct processing of agricultural products into semifinished food products, culinary items, and even ready-to-eat dishes contributes to an improved retention of the nutritional and flavor qualities of the original product with minimum losses. A very important trend in the integrated automation of the food industry is the transition from batch processes with a large number of operations to continuous streams; the introduction of chemical processes; the use of polyelectrolytes and enzymes to speed up filtration of juices; and the use of sublimation for dehydration, ultrasound for emulsification and extraction, electron beams and radioactive radiation for sterilization, high-frequency magnetic and electrical fields and infrared rays for heating, and so forth.
When integrated automatic equipment is made available to the food industry, to plants engaged in primary processing of agricultural products, and to public nutrition enterprises, losses are greatly curtailed and foodstuff quality is better preserved at the various stages of realization of the product. Both mobile and stationary automatic production units and lines for processing and packaging predominantly highly perishable products, which cannot be marketed in time without losses, are very important in agriculture. Automatic equipment for preparing dishes from semifinished products, in amounts corresponding to the level of consumption at any given moment, are being set up at enterprises handling public nutrition. The subjective visual techniques of chemical-technological and microbiological inspection and analysis, widespread in the food industry, are now being replaced by high-speed objective techniques for direct automatic control of the technological processes. Quality determinations of raw materials, intermediate semifinished products, and finished products, not only in terms of their physical and chemical parameters, but also in terms of flavor and aromatic qualities and the concentration of useful and harmful microorganisms, is important in this context.
Supplying light industry and the food industry as well as enterprises engaged in public nutrition with high-quality raw materials is closely linked to meeting optimum agrotechnical schedules of agricultural work. The use of key-activated and analytical computers is more effective on small farms, while electronic computers come into their own in the management of large farms. The combination of sophisticated technology and modern management techniques contributes to a continuous increase in labor productivity in agriculture.
Rapid marketing, while retaining the quality of the products produced, largely depends on operational efficiency and technical equipment of the mass distribution network. The use of electronic computers to analyze and satisfy demand is a great aid to industry in planning production and distributing the output. Goods are made available to the consumer more rapidly by the supplying network and its transportation services with automated dispatching communications having memory devices and monitoring systems. Automated warehouse equipment for stabilizing storage conditions, for addressed shipping, and for control of commodities traffic reduces losses. Automation of payment accounting, weighing and packaging operations, and delivery of purchases greatly reduces handling costs. Automatic commodity dispensers are used to market industrial products at places where people congregate periodically. Automation of processes in the area of mass services renders daily life easier, broadens opportunities for cultural leisure, and raises labor productivity by improving work efficiency.
Automation of production results in increased volume of production, more intense freight traffic, and more stringent requirements on transportation. The growth of freight and passenger transport goes hand in hand with the expansion of all forms of transportation and with the acceleration of traffic on existing lines. Fulfillment of intensive traffic schedules and safety of train movements are handled most successfully through automated control of railway transportation processes. Mechanization of loading and unloading operations and automatic classification of railway cars facilitate and expedite the process of making up freight trains. Automated processing of shipping documents and automated ticket sales simplify the servicing of clients and passengers. Remote control of the dispatching service and improvements in automatic block systems, locomotive signaling equipment, and automatic stopping devices improve safety on the tracks. A device designed to run trains automatically (the automatic engineer) contributes to optimizing conditions for train movement with track and traffic conditions taken into account. Uninterrupted power supplies to electrified railways are achieved through automation of operating substations.
Automation in other forms of transportation also facilitates and accelerates all forms of laborious operations at ports, on docks, at stations, and at airports. Improvements are seen in the higher efficiency of dispatching services, safety and regularity in traffic, better quality in servicing, better utilization of transportation units, and lower operating costs. Automation equipment in transportation varies from the simplest controllers and measuring devices to on-board digital computers used on large vessels and aircraft. A modern cargo or passenger vessel constitutes an intricate system of power machinery, load-handling equipment, sanitary engineering, navigation instruments, and other equipment, in which measuring instruments and automatic devices constitute an indispensible part. These are all combined in monitoring-regulation-control systems subordinate to a single command point. The airplane, as an aircraft and as a unit for transportation, is also provided with automatic devices designed to ensure safety and low cost of flights, normal operating conditions for the crew, and the comfort of passengers. This is achieved through the use of automatic pilots, navigation systems, and other flight systems; controllers regulating the operating conditions of the engines; and other internal equipment. An air fleet is the most convenient form of transportation, but some difficulties stand in the way of its most complete utilization. The high speed achieved in air shipments requires equally rapid delivery of passengers and freight to the airplanes. What is needed here is a flexible system for announcing availability and distribution of available space among departure points in conformity with flight schedules, appropriately timed ticket sales, and so forth. These and other similar problems have been solved quite effectively with the aid of the Sirena automatic control system.
The continuous increase in automotive transportation has led, in some countries, to a state of affairs where the automobile has become transformed from the fastest land-based means of transportation to the slowest in many large cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo, since streets and access roads are no longer capable of handling the enormous flow of motor vehicles. Local traffic lights switched by relay timers and their centralized control are not capable of handling the resulting traffic jams. The need has arisen for automatic control of street traffic, taking into account the intensity and density of traffic in its various directions using radar, optical equipment, remote control, and computer technology. Automated traffic control in cities and on highways will mean improved utilization and lower cost in nonrail transportation.
Human activity and the performance of technical devices frequently depend on hydrometeorological conditions. The weather service is a complex system of measurements, acquisition, transmission, and processing of large amounts of various meteorological data. These include pressure, temperature and air speed in various layers of the atmosphere, humidity, amount of precipitation, height of the bottom cloud cover, level and temperature of water in reservoirs, and other parameters monitored at many points and over vast distances. The yearly quantity of meteorological data increases exponentially, just as the number of persons involved in processing that data is increasing rapidly. Should that trend continue to the year 2060, the entire adult population of the USSR would be occupied solely in acquisition and processing of weather data. This means, of course, that any further development of hydrometeorology will be simply impossible without automation. An automated hydrometeorological service compiles short-term forecasts and accumulates data on the characteristics of the earth’s climate. The array of technical equipment at the disposal of such a service includes automatic meteorological stations, meteorological radar sets conducting observations on the bottom cloud cover and thunderstorms, high-speed data transmission devices, meteorological rockets and earth satellites transmitting television images of the earth’s surface and cloud cover, high-speed electronic computers compiling numerical weather forecasts, and graph plotters tracing out weather maps. World weather centers located at Washington, Moscow, and Melbourne are conducting a worldwide weather service on the basis of such data. Artificial earth satellites are rendering great assistance in this work; the first such satellite, launched on Oct. 4, 1957, in the USSR, was automated and equipped with radio remote control. Modern specialized self-controlling and remote-controlled satellites not only handle complicated problems in space research but also carry out relay functions in television and multichannel communications.
The technical revolution brought about by automation of production has created the conditions for a radical restructuring of control of whole branches of industry and of the whole national economy. An automated system controlling a particular line of production carries out a series of basic functions of an industrial ministry—planning, accounting and analysis of productive activities, supply of materials and machinery, marketing and sales, financial and bookkeeping activities, distribution and assignment of personnel, scientific and technical progress, and capital construction. This is achieved through organizational, economic, and mathematical techniques based on office mechanization techniques, computer technology, and various forms of communications.
Any branch automatic control system unites organization of management work with technical means, the information base, and software. The information base of the system is characterized by various flows of regulation and reference data, operational production data, and report and analytical data, and it is based on standardization of documents, the use of unified forms suitable for processing in computer technology, and the use of machine carriers of information as the primary documentation. The software supporting the system is a complex of programs organizing the operation of technical devices which function within the system, as well as mathematical and logical methods and programs for solving concrete production problems.
Branch automatic control systems based on computer centers of the industry, the automation of management work, systematic analysis of the development of production, execution of planned assignments, utilization of stocks of material and capital equipment, and a highly developed network of data processing computer centers serving territorially remote units all create realistic conditions for the organization of automated control of the country’s national economy.
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