Automated Systems and Controls 216

This class provides an overview of the processes and technologies associated with industrial automation and robotics. Automated systems connect industrial devices to communicate and record data that can be monitored and used to improve product quality. Automated systems use a combination of computer systems, software, wireless communication, and various digital management systems to automatically account for safety concerns, environmental changes, equipment programming, and monitoring across production. Automation uses the combination of control systems, sensors, and other smart technology to make the continuous operation of equipment possible.

After taking this class, users will understand the basic activities, software, and devices associated with integrating automation into an industrial manufacturing setting. Automation can increase the efficiency, safety, and quality across one or more facilities with little human intervention.

  • Difficulty Intermediate

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 14

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Automated Systems
  • Computer and Software Integration
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Automation Review
  • Motion Control
  • Part Design and Programming
  • Industrial Robots
  • Sensors
  • Automation Technology Review
  • Management Systems
  • Automating Maintenance
  • Cybersecurity
  • System Integration
  • Final Review
  • Describe automated systems.
  • Describe computer and software technologies for automation.
  • Describe industrial connectivity for automation.
  • Describe motion control technologies in automation.
  • Describe part programming processes for automation and robotics.
  • Describe industrial robot usage in automation.
  • Describe the use of sensors in industrial automation.
  • Describe process management systems for industrial automation.
  • Describe automated maintenance for industrial applications.
  • Describe cybersecurity for industrial automation.
  • Describe automation integration in an industrial system.
Vocabulary Term

3D cameras

A device that uses light and sensors to capture an object's geometric shape. 3D cameras collect object data for automation.


Automated guided vehicles. A programmable and highly sophisticated autonomous vehicle, often integrated with sensor technology, that moves throughout a space. AGVs are often used in warehouses and agricultural environments.


A logical and mathematical expression that models a process or action. Algorithms are coded into a computer program that forms the rules that determine how a device such as a robot interacts with its environment.

artificial intelligence

AI. A computer program that contains algorithms that function as behavioral rules. Artificial intelligence has software that provides the robot the ability to discern and learn from its experiences in order to make optimized decisions during the operation or for subsequent processes.

automated guided vehicles

AGV. A programmable and highly sophisticated autonomous vehicle, often integrated with sensor technology, that moves throughout a space. Automated guided vehicles are often used in warehouses and agricultural environments.

automatic identification systems

A method used to identify and track materials with little or no need for human interference. Common automatic identification systems include barcodes and radio frequency identification.

automatic identification technology

AIT. Any method used to recognize objects, collect data about them, and record that data in computer information systems without direct human intervention. Automatic identification technology includes bar codes, radio-frequency identification, biometric identification, and optical character recognition, among other methods.


The use of self-regulated equipment, processes, or systems that meet manufacturing requirements with limited human intervention. Automation is an efficient means of production.

business process automation

BPA. The use of software and digital technologies to automate various company tasks. Business process automation can streamline anything from the organization of product designs to processing financial documents.


Computer-aided design. Computer software used to create 3D part or manufacturing component models. CAD is most often used to create part and assembly models for production, but it can also be used to create 3D components for robotic simulations.


Computer-aided manufacturing. The use of computer software that facilitates the development of part programs to produce a part. CAM software applications create an image of the workpiece and develop the program code from information that the programmer inputs.


A network of remote servers that can be accessed through the internet. The cloud stores many software applications and can be used to back up data.

cloud computing

The practice of using software and storing data on remote servers that can be accessed through the internet. Cloud computing is common among manufacturers and consumers.

collaborative robots

Cobot. A robot that can be programmed to learn a specific task in order to assist humans. A collaborative robot is designed to interact with humans in a shared workspace.

communication protocol standards

A set of formal rules describing how to transmit or exchange data, especially across a network. Communication protocol standards enable equipment to efficiently communication with one another.

computer numerical control

CNC. A programmable system of software and hardware that directs the operation of a machine. Computer numerical control systems use mathematical data to direct machine movements.

computer-aided design

CAD. Computer software used to create 3D part or manufacturing component models. Computer-aided design is most often used to create part and assembly models for production, but it can also be used to create 3D components for robotic simulations.

computer-aided manufacturing

CAM. The use of computer software that facilitates the development of part programs to produce a part. Computer-aided manufacturing software applications create an image of the workpiece and develop the program code from information that the programmer inputs.

computerized maintenance management systems

CMMS. A technology and software package that organizes and tracks data about a company's maintenance operations. Computerized maintenance management systems are an important tool for preventive and predictive maintenance.

control systems

A network of control loops used to manage dynamic processes by adjusting or maintaining physical variables. Control systems allow for more precise and repeatable processes.


The main device that processes information and communicates instructions to a robot. A controller operates the entire robotic system.


Protection against criminal or unauthorized access to computer networks, programs, and data. Cybersecurity has become a major industrial concern as networking and connectivity have increased.


Similar types of information collected into a single asset, or unit. Datasets are used by manufacturers to organize the information they collect.

deep learning

An advanced form of machine learning that uses neural networks with multiple hidden layers. Deep learning algorithms can enable machines to exhibit advanced, human-like behaviors but require significant amounts of data.

digital enterprise strategy

A plan for using digital technologies to achieve business goals. A digital enterprise strategy helps businesses integrate technologies into processes.

digital thread

An integrated view of all the data and information about a machine or process throughout its lifecycle. The digital thread connects information from all aspects of a product into one seamless network.

digital twin

A virtual representation of a physical asset or part. A digital twin evolves with the asset throughout its product lifecycle.


A period of time when production stops, often due to mechanical failure or maintenance needs. Downtime can be planned or unplanned.

edge computing

The practice of using software and storing data on multiple local devices located at the data source. Edge computing distributes processing tasks across multiple edge devices at the data source.

end effector

A device attached to the end of a robot arm that allows it to interact with a part, component, or material. The end effector may be a gripper that allows the robot to pick up objects and place them down.

enterprise resource planning

ERP. A specific application of a management information system. Enterprise resource planning systems take the data from internal and external information systems and integrate it throughout the organization.


Enterprise resource. A specific application of a management information system. ERP systems take the data from internal and external information systems and integrate it throughout the organization.

ethernet cable

A type of transmission medium that is able to withstand harsh industrial environments. Ethernet cables are used to connect devices on local area networks (LAN).


Information sent from a sensing system to a controller to show disturbances or error value. Feedback allows the system to adjust the robot's position or force.

flexible manufacturing system

FMS. An arrangement of versatile, programmable machines and devices that allow equipment to be used for various related purposes, increasing productivity. Flexible manufacturing systems can perform similar tasks on different products without changeover.

human-machine interfaces

HMI. A device connected to a machine that allows operators to monitor and control a machine or process. A human-machine interface may have a touch screen or control pad.

Industrial Internet of Things

IIoT. A network of physical devices used in manufacturing that contain computing systems that allow them to send and receive data. The Industrial Internet of Things allows devices to exchange data and automate processes without any human intervention.

industrial robots

A reprogrammable machine sometimes used in place of a person in a manufacturing setting. Industrial robots perform dangerous or repetitive tasks with high degrees of flexibility and accuracy.

information technology

IT. The department within an organization that is responsible for developing and managing computer systems. Information technology works with hardware, software, networks, and other computerized devices.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

IEEE. An organization composed of electrical and electronic engineers, scientists, and students. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers sets standards for the computer and electronics industries.

International Electrotechnical Commission

IEC. An international organization that prepares and publishes all standards for electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The International Electrotechnical Commission develops standards that are applied in Europe and other countries.

International Society of Automation

ISA. A non-profit technical society for engineers, technicians, and other professionals in the field of automation. The International Society of Automation develops standards and guidelines for safe industrial automation.


Optimization of movement between two defined points. Interpolation allows robot motion control systems to divide paths to make precise changes based on speed or environmental factors.

light curtains

A field of light that stops a machine when the light is blocked by an object. Light curtains prevent robots from striking personnel and equipment.

lights-out manufacturing

A facility being fully automated and operating without any employees on-site. Lights-out manufacturing allows for processes to operate overnight and during the weekend.

local area network

LAN. A communication network that connects computers and associated devices together over a short or long distance. A local area network uses a wired connection.

machine learning

ML. The process that enables a digital system to analyze data in order to build predictive models and make decisions autonomously. Machine learning systematically solves problems using highly complex algorithms.


M2M. The transfer of data between machines and the internet without human interaction. Machine-to-machine communication relies on sensors.

management information system

MIS. Used for the coordination, control, analysis, and visualization of information in an organization. Management information systems are important for using data in industrial automation.

manufacturing execution systems

MES. A type of MIS system used specifically to manage and execute manufacturing operations. Manufacturing execution systems allows companies to use the power of computers to store product, machine, and materials data and use it to effectively optimize operations.

Manufacturing Technology Connect

MTConnect. A manufacturing standard to process information from equipment. Manufacturing Technology Connect is an open source communication protocol.

motion control

Controlling the movement of machine elements. Motion control is produced by using a mechanical source of power like an actuator.

neural networks

A web of connected nodes designed to resemble the structure and function of neurons in the human brain. Neural networks build advanced machine learning models for artificial intelligence (AI) in robots and other machines.


A conceptual model for artificial intelligence designed to resemble the basic structure and function of a neuron in the human brain. Neurons stemmed from the idea that a computing device could process information similar to a human.

Open Platform Communications United Architecture

OPC-UA. Ensures the reliable exchange of data in the industrial automation space and in other industries. Open Platform Communications United Architecture ensures the flow of information among devices.

part programs

A series of alpha-numeric instructions that direct a machine to perform the necessary sequence of operations. Multiple part programs can be stored by a CNC machine or robot controller at one time.

path planning

Robot software that uses algorithms to direct the robot's motions through space. Path planning software finds the safest and most efficient route for a robot to complete a task.


programmable logic controller. A processor-driven device that uses logic-based software to provide electrical control to machines and processes. A PLC is used in factory automation.

position sensors

A device that senses the location of a component. Position sensors may be used with industrial robots to aid automation.

predictive maintenance

A maintenance approach that involves collecting data related to machine operation in order to service a machine before maintenance issues arise. Predictive maintenance, also known as condition-based maintenance, is performed on a scheduled basis and helps prevent unscheduled downtime.

presence sensing devices

A mechanism used to detect the location of people or objects near hazardous areas of a machine. Presence-sensing devices often use pressure-sensitive mats or light curtains.

Preventive maintenance

PM. A type of maintenance performed while a component is in working order to keep it from breaking down. Preventive maintenance may include lubricating, tightening, and replacing worn parts.

process platforms

Set ups of equipment that can be used for similar processes with minimal changeover. Process platforms assist in automation by avoiding the need to stop operation for changeover.

programmable logic controllers

PLC. A processor-driven device that uses logic-based software to provide electrical control to machines and processes. A programmable logic controller is used in factory automation.

robotic arms

A type of robot that closely resembles a human arm. A robotic arm, also known as an articulated robot, has at least three revolute joints.

robotic process automation

RPA. A software technology that enables robots to work independently and emulate human-like actions. Robotic process automation allows robots to perform industrial and other business tasks without human intervention.


A device that detects the presence or absence of an object, certain properties of an object, environmental changes, or the internal state of a robot, and provides feedback. Sensors allow robots to have an awareness of their environment.


The physical computer that shares information with other computers within its network. The server for a network of CNC machines would share part programs.

smart Manufacturing

Technologically integrated manufacturing that creates and uses data in real time to address the needs of the factory, supplier, and customer. Smart manufacturing is an advancement of traditional manufacturing automation.

teach pendants

A device used to control a robot during programming. Teach pendants may have control buttons, a joystick, or a touch screen.

temperature sensors

A type of sensor that measures thermal values. Temperature sensors monitor both internal robot and ambient temperatures.


Performed on equipment according to an established inspection schedule. Time-based preventive maintenance schedules can be tracked manually or with computerized maintenance management systems.


Performed on equipment according to a schedule based on equipment utilization and performance. Usage-based preventive maintenance can be scheduled according to length of time in use, number of product cycles, or other performance measurements.


The rate of change in an object 's speed or displacement in a given direction. A constant surface speed ensures a steady velocity.

vision sensors

A type of sensor that uses a camera to detect the presence, orientation, and features of an object. Vision sensors provide guidance to robots.


A type of wireless network that enables communication between devices at a single geographical location. Wi-Fi networks are typically established by connecting a wireless access point to a wired internet device.

wireless access point

Wireless AP. A device that enables wireless communication by emitting a radio signal across its surrounding area. Wireless access points are typically connected to wired internet technology, such as a cable modem.

wireless local area network

WLAN. A communication network that sends and receives signals through the air instead of using cable. Wireless local area networks allow for the use of mobile devices and communication in areas that are impractical for wired networks.

work cells

An arrangement of machines, tooling, materials, and operators structured around the design of similar products. Work cells encourage smooth product flows and use space efficiently.