Whether it is consumer and commercial tech moving onto the production floor or into the field, or rapid advances in artificial intelligence and cyber-physical systems, the digital transformation of industry will accelerate.
Industrial operations are experiencing a massive shift toward digitalization made possible through multivendor open solutions that enable efficient and frictionless integration. Cyber-physical systems involve transdisciplinary approaches, merging the theory of cybernetics, mechatronics, design, and process science. Examples of cyber-physical systems include industrial control systems, smart grids, autonomous vehicles, and other targets of Industry 4.0.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and commercial-technology devices such as smartphones are driving down the cost of these technologies, creating opportunities for component application in manufacturing control and automation. Controls and automation previously done by programmable logic controllers, distributed control systems, and other dedicated controllers is being replaced by edge and embedded computing.
Demand for greater customization of products and processes is pressuring the development of faster and more adaptable production environments incorporating 3D printing, robotics, collaborative robots, and mechatronics.
By Bill Lydon, Automation.com Contributing Editor
Key Elements and Drivers
For ISA Members and Leaders
ISA Interchange Blog - 21 July 2020
This new computational paradigm significantly changes our way of solving everyday problems and opens a big a range of opportunities in all fields of study. In the past few years, machine learning has been used widely, including in the industrial sector. Despite this wide scope and having many great professionals working in this field, some common mistakes have been observed (and should be avoided) in industrial project development.
InTech Magazine - July/August 2020
There is no escaping the term artificial intelligence (AI) today. It perpetuates the media, pop culture, and industry.We broadly define AI as a discipline that uses computer science and statistics to create systems that perceive, understand, and act in a manner similar to human intelligence. The field of AI covers a variety of technologies leveraging a multitude of data science techniques capable of “learning” to enable this intelligence. In this article we will cover several types of AI, dispel common misconceptions, and dive into more specific real-world industrial applications with future guidance.
InTech Magazine - July/August 2020
Most discrete part manufacturers are continually questing for ways to improve productivity. While some may follow an approach based on gut feel and instinct, it is more constructive to base operational improvement efforts on hard facts. Attainment of this goal is often hindered, however, by a lack of timely data sourced from field instruments, machines, and automation systems.
Building a Resilient World: Practical Automation Cybersecurity - 29 May 2020
One of the commonly targeted pathways into an industrial automation and control system (IACS) is through compromised remote access such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and remote desktop protocol (RDP). During the stay-at-home orders and other self-quarantining measures around the globe to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, many automation engineers for industrial facilities have increased their use of remote connections to provide support for their sites from home. Remote access has allowed for essential support to maintain the operations for critical facilities, but also results in increased cybersecurity exposure for IACS.
InTech Magazine - May/June 2020
Jim Lee, Tool Gauge general manager, faces the stark realities of doing business in a global market. Even though the company is close to many of its customers in the Pacific Northwest, their customers can do business anywhere in the world, including in much lower-cost labor markets. It became clear to the company that the way to compete in a global market is more automation to improve efficiency and quality and to add more value. The company’s fixed-price contracts can extend for five to seven years, without the ability to renegotiate even if labor costs increase. Tool Gauge needed to build in efficiencies and found cobots were the perfect solution.
Building a Resilient World: Practical Automation Cybersecurity - 24 March 2020
Digitalization is not a new topic. It’s been more than an idea for several years now. Whether it is specifically called Digitalization, Industry 4.0, Smart Plants/Facilities/Cities, or discussed in terms of the enabling technologies, such as industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices, 5G wireless communications, or Big Data isn’t really important. What is important are what is driving it, the implications (both positive and potentially negative), and what the OT/ICS (operational technology and industrial control systems) community should be doing about it.
ISA Interchange Blog - 18 March 2020
Globalization has been a very successful strategy for many businesses. Distributing the supply chain across the world and capitalizing on lower-cost locations has helped improve productivity and reduce costs.
When major disasters or emergencies happen, organizations may need to put into play their emergency response or continuity of operations plans. In recent years, we’ve seen major flooding, earthquakes, and extensive wildfires disrupt business. Pandemics, though, are on an entirely different level of disruption. While organizations may be able to move parts of their supply chain out of affected areas, the affected area in a pandemic is, by definition, something that covers multiple continents.
ISA Interchange Blog - 11 March 2020
For most people close to the OT cybersecurity world, it’s beyond obvious that industrial cybersecurity has a direct and significant impact on business decisions, specifically when it comes to risk assessment and management.
For some who don’t see the statistics every day and aren’t on the front lines of working on solutions to these complex challenges, it isn’t so obvious. Perhaps it’s seen as a “plant floor problem” or an IT initiative rather than an integral part of an organization’s DNA, like your approach to safety or your commitment to sustainability.
ISA Interchange Blog - 4 March 2020
If you haven’t heard the term “digital twin,” you’ve been living under a digital rock. The technology has also been referred to as virtual prototyping, hybrid twin technology, virtual twin, and digital asset management. With an estimated 25 billion global sensors being brought online by 2021, MIT Sloan Management Review calls digital twin technology "an innovation game changer."
So, what exactly is a digital twin, in the context of manufacturing automation?
InTech Magazine - March/April 2020
Machine, station, line, and system development is usually sequential: Mechanical design, electrical design, and automation are performed one after the other. If a mistake is made anywhere in the development process and is not detected, the error costs grow substantially over the phase of development. Undetected errors can be expensive during commissioning.