The industrial automation trends making waves in manufacturing
The shift towards digital transformation in industry has already taken place. Manufacturers have increasingly been encouraged to invest in new technologies, with automation as a key technological driver. 2019 saw the trial of the first 5G smart factory in the UK, but what will 2020 have in store? As we look ahead to a new decade, Stefan Reuther, chief sales officer of industrial software provider COPA-DATA, gives three predictions for industrial automation in 2020.
The automation of manufacturing processes is at a turning point. Since the advent of the programmable logic controller (PLC), a number of automation islands have evolved that automate isolated steps in the manufacturing process. For example, a six-axis robot can stack and palletize products in a factory, but a manufacturer would need to invest in several different types of automation to fully automate its production line. This process-specific approach can result in some increases to operational efficiency. However, this does not provide a comprehensive, integrated view of manufacturing and thus doesn’t harness all the benefits of a complete automation system.
While it’s years since the emergence of the term Industry 4.0, we’re not quite ready to leave the buzzword in its founding decade. Here are three predictions for major trends in industrial automation for 2020 — manufacturers take note.
Vertical integration — with actionable insights
Vertical integration in Industry 4.0 looks to unite all logical layers in a business, so that information can be free flowing. Increasingly, organizations are demanding a seamless connection between IT and OT to provide an integrated and holistic view of manufacturing and business operations. This infrastructure has been deployed successfully in many facilities, but in 2020, we can truly begin to reap the rewards.
Vertical integration delivers multiple streams of data, but it doesn’t make decisions. Successful deployment should enable organisations to respond to changing markets and spot new opportunities seamlessly. We’re already collecting the data — let’s do something with it.
Improvements in software addresses this trend with platforms that are highly scalable, simple to use, flexible and easy to implement. Linking data from the sensor to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, intelligent software that has been specifically developed with vertical integration in mind can provide operators with a clear visualization of how to use vertical data.
Predictions two and three…