Behavioral automation

Ideas related to behavioral economics seem to continue to expand and influence U.S. domestic policies. Behavioral engineering has been applied to many disciplines, including how organizations function and encourage safety. Now, let’s consider behavioral automation. Behaviors below might influence those in manufacturing to buy, apply, and optimize automation.


Ideas related to behavioral economics seem to continue to expand and influence U.S. domestic policies. Behavioral engineering has been applied to many disciplines, including how organizations function and encourage safety. Now, let’s consider behavioral automation. Behaviors below might influence those in manufacturing to buy, apply, and optimize automation.

  • Purchasing higher-priced custom replacement parts or buying used automation because the original manufacturer no longer offers replacement parts or supports related software or services;

  • Experiencing workflow bottlenecks because things aren’t just in time (automation helps things flow);

  • Quoting jobs too high or low because sales cannot get real-time information about cost of production;

  • Seeing lines or plants close because overall cost of production is too high to maintain competitiveness (overall plant efficiency is increasing as less-automated plants close);

  • Enduring costs related to limb crushing or mangling, or repetitive-stress injuries (integrating automation and safety helps save life and limb);

  • Wasting time by manually recreating or re-associating information with products at various points in operations (information can travel with the product as it’s created).

Behavioral economics advocates suggest that behavioral-based intervention strategies can be more effective in bringing about change than more traditional models of learning. If the behaviors above match what you’re experiencing, you may need an automation intervention. Behavioral automation may provide persuasive justification for investments. Quantify the costs of these behaviors and include that information in the budgetary request for redesigning processes and applying the latest automation.

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Additional behaviors that might influence those in manufacturing to buy, apply, and optimize automation:

- Reworking products rejected because of quality inspections at the end of the line (instead of problems corrected in real-time during production);

- Acquiring a plant (with need to unify data structures across plants);

- Closing a plant (and deciding what equipment to save or sell); and

- Refiguring production schedules around unplanned downtime (that could be detected in advance with predictive maintenance automation).


Behavioral automation could be defined as:

1. As suggested above, observed occurrences that suggest the need to apply sensors, logic devices, and actuators (automation) to improve.

2. Government or regulators or the market place creates incentives for changes that lead to more efficient process design and automation installations. (See also 1.)

3. A control loop: A system that measures, actuates changes, and measures again, moving operations closer to the desired behavior.

4. Automation designed to observe and mimic human actions and behaviors.


Need help with behavioral automation?

-Automation suppliers can lend expertise.

-System integrators and other consultants can offer specific application and engineering-related knowledge.

-And you can seek input and share your strategies, with Control Engineering peers, posting comments with this story using the tool below or in comments at the Control Engineering Facebook group .


Also see, from Control Engineering :

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U.S. federal government offers more about behavior economics . A 28-page PDF, “Research Priorities, results of the National Research Symposium on Financial Literacy and Education, Washington, DC, Oct. 6-7, 2008,” asks, in part:

- Are intervention strategies that are designed based on behavioral economics and decision-making theory more effective than those based on the more traditional model of knowledge transfer that leads to changes in attitude, skills, and ultimately, behavior?

-What are the core principles of personal finance that every consumer needs to know, and what evidence exists that current standards are effective in helping people reach their financial goals?

-How do people perceive and manage risk, and what are their financial risk tolerances and capacities?

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