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Automation and the Body: Energy vs. Power

Over the course of the past few months, I have invited you into my world of engineering and automation – a world where controllers, inputs and outputs, and networks are constantly firing to ensure that our automated systems are at the highest possible level of performance. I know this world like the back of my hand.

Since I started working at ARMI | BioFabUSA, I have been surrounded by scientists that think about things in a different way. And as we work to make practical the large-scale manufacturing of tissues and tissue related technologies, now more than ever I realize the importance of merging the worlds of automation and engineering with science. 

As an introduction to get scientists to understand the language and general concepts of engineering and in an effort for me as an automation specialist and engineer to understand the science, I have worked to present you with the first blog series of Automation Station, which is titled Automation and the Body. This series of blogs has worked to compare the parts of an automated system to the components of the human body – blending the two different worlds to allow for the forward movement of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Thus far, we have discussed the similarities between a controller and the human brain, inputs/outputs to senses and muscular reactions, and networks/signals to the nervous system. As we bring our first blog series of Automation Station to a close, I want to discuss the glue that brings all of these pieces together that allows them to function as one, both within an automated system and within the human body.  

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Energy is required for us to carry out even the most simple and mundane tasks of our everyday lives. Most people understand that they need food in order to fuel their body. While this is true, the food itself is not providing the energy that is necessary for your body to complete various activities; but instead, it is what happens to this food once it is ingested that powers your body.

Inside each of your cells is an organelle called the mitochondria, which is responsible for the conversion of the nutrients within your food into a form of energy that the body can utilize. Through various intricate processes, bonds between molecules are broken and energy from within those bonds is converted into the universal source of energy that can be used anywhere in the body and powers your system. This form of energy is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

ATP allows the brain to act as the control center for all of the body’s functions and is constantly being used as we do things like move freely, communicate with one another and express emotions. It is the energy that allows your sensors and muscles to function, and is a key component that allows for transmission of a signal from one part of your body to another. Without it, you would not be able to carry out the simplest of tasks.  

ATP that is used within the body can be closely compared to the power that is necessary to for an automated system to function within a factory. Similar to that of energy within the human body, power goes through various stages where it is converted or changed before it is able to be used by the components in an automated system.

If you would like to learn more about the similarities between the nervous system and networks and wires within an automation system, and how you can implement controllers into your research to make everyday tasks easier, visit the Automation Station portion of our Community Portal.