Levels of automation: cognitive and physical automation

Automation can be defined as a technology or type of machine which performs the work of human beings. There are several levels of automation. In order to carry out automation smartly and efficiently, it is important to allocate tasks to the appropriate level and understand what the levels mean.

According to the Chalmers definition of levels of automation, static tools may also fall under this term. This means that a piece of paper could be classed as automation.

Lo Amatris
The LoA matrix, in which levels of automation are presented in two dimensions, cognitive and physical. Source: Åsa Fasth

The Chalmers levels of automation consist of two dimensions: physical and cognitive (see figure above). The physical automation level involves technology which replaces human muscle power. Examples of physical automation include a robot or a screwdriver.

The cognitive automation level involves technology which replaces human brainpower. It is about how much control the person has over the task and in what way they are supported by information. Examples include a fully autonomous cell, where the person has no control, or an instruction which supervises the operator.

To find out more, take a look at the coursebook entitled Smart automation. This introduces seven practical methods on how to choose solutions tailored to operators engaged in final assembly.


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This article is categorised as Intermediate  |  Published 2018-04-03  |  Authored by Sandra Mattsson