Humans always have been aware of their mental superiority as well as their physical limitations such as the need to rest, eat, socialize, and the limitations to lift weights or perform repetitive tasks or tasks with pre-defined triggers to perform a certain task with minimal errors.
These human limitations always have motivated engineers, scientists, and philosophers of the progressing society in the past and present to bring forward the theoretical or practical guidelines to get such tasks done without (or with minimal) tradeoffs in the process.
These motivations were the root cause of the rise of the Automation Industry that began with simple mechanical tools merely relying on the natural processes to ease the human work. One such device was the ancient water clock, which effectively kept the correct time eliminating the fundamentally faulty and error-prone human factor http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/HistTopics/Water_clocks.html.
Since then, humans have always been inventing various electrical and mechanical machines, to speed up various tedious tasks especially the ones with alleviated criticality levels. This revolution of the mechanical and electrical industry continued to foster throughout the 18th until the 20th century, where these machines became the natural part of human society.
Robotics was an integral part of the 3rd Industrial Revolution. They did not only increase the production capacity, refined the production quality, and decreased the production costs, they also created new avenues of jobs for humans and paved the way for a breeding ground for the 4th industrial revolution.
Human reliance on internet-based technologies gave birth to another kind of industry involving different types of robotics – the Software Robotics, a.k.a an RPA. RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation Which In laymen terms are the software mirrors of the hardware type of robots that are designed to automate and perform tasks that are repetitive and are confined within specific rules defined by the requirements of the industry.
The intention of the RPA development arises from the concept of Robots themselves; that is, they can do the same work as humans do but in a faster, better, and error-free manner, and needless to say, they don’t require rest time unless defined in rules.
RPA can help achieve higher productivity and achieve superior quality in engineering as well; specifically, in Electrical Engineering, where most of the ideas are governed by strict mathematical and physical rules. Electrical engineering is on average sub-divided into five major engineering branches which are given in the list below:
In the following sections, we would try to establish how, in each of these fields, the RPA can help engineers increase various aspects of tedious engineering tasks and increase the robotic process automation by reducing the human interventions.
In Electronics Engineering, various processes of PCB manufacturing are already automated via the usage of robots. These include PCB traces making, Multi-layers PCB creation, and drilling for components soldering. After completing these automated processes, there’s an implementation of a new stage of manual inspection where a human agent will look for the problems overlooked during automated processes.
These problems include missing or broken traces, over drilled or under drilled holes, misplaced component holes, and above and/or underexposure to heating. To solve these issues automatically, an RPA can be trained looking over the human action addressing these issues via similar GUI to mark faulty PCBs. This will not only increase the productivity in final stages; it’ll decrease the additional production cost that goes into repetitive manufacturing of the same PCBs.
The RPA tools can also help the electronics engineers select the right ICs for the circuit designs, as the input and output requirements are often constrained within specific rules. RPA implementation, at least in circuit designing (drafting stage), can speed up the design stage which ultimately increases the agility of electronics development.
Signal and Image Processing are another subbranch of electrical engineering. In this branch, the analysis and manipulation are done mostly on 2D or 3D signals.
The majority of these signals involve a standard test of Fourier Transform and similar transforms to look at the important contents of the signal. To increase the agility in signal analysis and reduce the preliminary reporting time, the major tests and their results can be automated using RPA tools.
This will save expensive expert human agent time for conventional analyses. An RPA deployment can be made to watch how human agent analyzes these signals in the initial stage and then these tools can repeat the whole process for incoming new and unknown signals.
In the case of 3D signal (Images), an RPA tool can analyze the contents of the signal and suggest the tools to the expert that can be utilized to analyze the image effectively. The RPA deployment in this domain is not only beneficial but to some extent necessary as well.
The Telecommunication Engineering itself is composed of multiple higher-level subbranches, and each branch can be benefitted from RPA implementation.
RF Signal Optimization can be sped up by automatically detecting and reporting the high demand areas and low signal quality detection.
These tools, when integrated with RPA chatbots on the hunt of customer complaints, can automatically flag the most critical signal drop affecting the most vital or widest chunk of the population, decreasing the manual cross-referencing by a human agent.
In satellite communication, the RPA tools can calculate and report the full range of satellite constellations (operated by various organizations) working in a particular region at a certain time.
This can help achieve uninterrupted live communication channels available for civilian and defense purposes in case of disaster management efforts without the human agent’s involvement in the time-critical reporting.
In the future, various RPA tools can be integrated to create a comprehensive meta of an input to categorize, analyze the content and suggest the right tool to do the in-depth analyses of the input. This can bring revolution in organizations covering the whole horizon of electrical engineering.
Similarly, various AI libraries can be made part of each (of above discussed) RPA tools to exponentially increase their power, accuracy, and relevance to real-life problem-solving capabilities.