Industrial Automation: A Glimpse into the Future

In today’s world, nearly everything that is cutting edge is defined as being “smart”: smartphones, smart home security systems, smart cars, and now smart factories?

Industry on a global scale may have slowed because of the recession which hit the United States less than a decade ago, but it is now picking up with a fervour which only smart factory automation can keep up with. Wondering what you can expect to see over the next 10 years or so? Then read on.

Industrial Automation

Low Energy Devices

According to the research company IHS, as much as 42% of the world’s electricity is not consumed by homeowners or business owners. It is being sucked up by factories. Of that, nearly 28% of it is immediately channelled into driving the motors within the systems of a factor.

If one thing is for certain when it comes to the future of automation systems, it is that almost every single system will be able to operate with as little energy as possible. Over the past decade alone there have been leaps and bounds in terms of energy use. As Mark Watson from IHS has said, if highly energy efficient motors were implemented worldwide, then those energy savings would be enough to power Los Angeles for two whole years or it would be enough to run one of Germany’s ICE trains at nearly 190MPH for a millennium and a half.

Factories can begin to take advantage of high-energy systems in one of two ways:

  1. They can purchase brand new systems to save on energy; or (and more preferably)
  2. Their current systems can be retrofitted with energy saving motors

A growing number of businesses are seeing the cost benefit to using these motors, but it will likely be some time until factories worldwide find the cost savings to be worth the expense.

Bespoke or Customized Machines

Systems used to be cranked out just like any other product on the market today: along an assembly line. But this century has seen a rise in customized machines being designed to cater to the needs of specific businesses, regardless of what industry they may find themselves in.

System designers are now able to show businesses and manufacturers exactly what a system will look like and how it will operate through 3D software. This allows their clients to fully understand how the system will work and how it will function within their factory well before they sink thousands (if not millions) of dollars into its development.

Real-Time Systems

Imagine if a system, which you currently have, is able to tell if the next system is running ahead of time or is lagging a bit. Imagine if that system which receives can do this is then able to operate based on how that other system(s) are functioning. Thanks to contact sensors and distributed peer-to-peer networks, the factories of today and especially those of tomorrow will be able to function at optimal levels only when they need to.

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