Can automation make a production system safer?
The answer is yes and no.
On one hand, when a process is operated in a consistent, reliable and predictable manner (as enabled by automation), it allows human operators to think more as opposed to continuously acting. This makes them less likely to rush through decisions and responses, ultimately reducing the likelihood of human errors and injuries.
On the other hand, humans bring flexibility and adaptability to the system, which enhances system’s capability to respond better to rapid changes and a multitude of production scenarios.
The question of safety in an automated production system comes down to the optimal level of human/machine collaboration, where at the stage of the system design disadvantages of both – the human operator and the machine – are carefully considered and the advantages are leveraged.
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