Process Automation Middleware
At the current level of development, process automation is one of the approaches to process management based on the use of information technology. This approach allows the management of operations, data, information and resources through the use of computers and software that reduce the degree of human participation in the process, or completely eliminate it.
The main goal of automation is to improve the quality of the process. An automated process has more stable characteristics than a manual process. In many cases, process automation can increase productivity, reduce process execution time, reduce cost, increase accuracy and stability of operations.
To date, process automation has covered many industries and areas of activity: from manufacturing processes to shopping in stores. Regardless of the size and scope of the organization, almost every company has automated processes. The process approach provides for all processes the same principles of automation.
Despite the fact that process automation can be performed at various levels, the principles of automation for all levels and all types of processes will remain the same. These are general principles that set the conditions for the efficient execution of processes in automatic mode and establish rules for automatic process control.
The basic principles of process automation are: the principle of consistency, the principle of integration, the principle of independence of execution. These general principles are detailed depending on the level of automation under consideration and specific processes. For example, automation of production processes includes principles such as the principle of specialization, the principle of proportionality, the principle of continuity, etc.
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F.A.Q. about Process Automation Middleware
What are the levels of process automation?
Process automation is needed to support management at all levels of the company hierarchy. In this regard, the levels of automation are determined depending on the level of control at which the automation of processes is performed.
Management levels are usually divided into operational, tactical and strategic.
In accordance with these levels, automation levels are also distinguished:
- Lower level of automation or level of performers. At this level, automation of regularly running processes is carried out. Automation of processes is aimed at performing operational tasks (for example, executing a production process), maintaining established parameters (for example, autopilot operation), and maintaining certain operating modes (for example, temperature conditions in a gas boiler).
- Production management level or tactical level. Automation of processes of this level ensures the distribution of tasks between various processes of the lower level. Examples of such processes are production management processes (production planning, service planning), processes of managing resources, documents, etc.
- Enterprise management level or strategic level. Automation of the processes of the enterprise management level provides the solution of analytical and forecast tasks. This level of automation is necessary to support the work of top management of the organization. It is aimed at financial, economic and strategic management.
Automation of processes at each of these levels is provided through the use of various automation systems (CRM systems, ERP systems, OLAP systems, etc.). All automation systems can be divided into three basic types.
Types of automation systems include:
- immutable systems. These are systems in which the sequence of actions is determined by the configuration of the equipment or process conditions and cannot be changed during the process.
- programmable systems. These are systems in which the sequence of actions may vary depending on a given program and process configuration. The selection of the necessary sequence of actions is carried out through a set of instructions that can be read and interpreted by the system.
- flexible (self-adjusting) systems. These are systems that are able to carry out the selection of necessary actions in the process of work. Changing the configuration of the process (sequence and conditions of operations) is based on information about the process.
These types of systems can be applied at all levels of process automation individually or as part of a combined system.
What are the types of automated processes?
In each sector of the economy, there are enterprises and organizations that produce products or provide services. All these enterprises can be divided into three groups, depending on their “remoteness” in the natural resource processing chain.
The first group of enterprises is enterprises that extract or produce natural resources. Such enterprises include, for example, agricultural producers, oil and gas companies.
The second group of enterprises is enterprises that process natural raw materials. They make products from raw materials mined or produced by enterprises of the first group. Such enterprises include, for example, automobile industry enterprises, steel enterprises, electronic industry enterprises, power plants, etc.
The third group is service enterprises. Such organizations include, for example, banks, educational institutions, medical institutions, restaurants, etc.
For all enterprises, we can distinguish common groups of processes associated with the production of products or the provision of services.
These processes include:
- business processes;
- design and development processes;
- production processes;
- control and analysis processes.
What are the benefits of process automation?
Process automation can significantly improve the quality of management and product quality. With the implementation of the QMS, automation gives a significant effect and enables the organization to significantly improve its work. However, before deciding on process automation, it is necessary to evaluate the benefits of running processes in an automatic mode.
Typically, process automation provides the following benefits:
- the speed of completing repetitive tasks increases. Due to the automatic mode, the same tasks can be completed faster because automated systems are more accurate in operations and are not prone to a decrease in performance from the time of work.
- quality of work increases. The exclusion of the human factor significantly reduces variations in the execution of the process, which leads to a decrease in the number of errors and, accordingly, increases the stability and quality of the process.
- increases control accuracy. Due to the use of information technology in automated systems, it becomes possible to save and take into account a greater amount of process data than with manual control.
- parallel tasks. Automated systems allow you to perform several actions at the same time without loss of quality and accuracy. This speeds up the process and improves the quality of the results.
- quick decision making in typical situations. In automated systems, decisions related to typical situations are made much faster than with manual control. This improves the performance of the process and avoids inconsistencies in subsequent stages.