Since 1970 high powered lasers have been used in industry for cutting, welding and surface treatment. These operations are normally automated by some form of pre-programmed operation. None of the existing industrial systems incorporates process quality feedback control. The operating routines are all prefixed regardless of possible undesired changes requiring resetting of those conditions during operation. As a result the quality of products can not be guaranteed except by past experience. This problem has become increasingly apparent to industry and research scientists, particularly now that it may be soluble. Many attempts have been made to find a solution; so far they have served to show that the task is complex. This paper reviews previous achievements in laser automation and process feedback control. It discusses some of the techniques which might be employed for future developments.