Everything is getting smarter in the plant. Manufacturing efficiencies keep increasing because of these smart systems. We're seeing improvements in set-up time, networked communication (from ERP to suppliers to customers), energy consumption, safety, and throughput. The new plant is clean, quiet, and requires less space. Hardware and software intelligence is at the heart of these improvements.
For plant managers, this is good news. The emerging plant intelligence saves money and increases profit. It also takes some of the pressure off the control engineer. Gone are the days of original programming and endless visits from integrators. Much of the plant system comes pre-integrated and needs just a little bit of tweaking from the supplier. And the suppliers are often connecting to the plant offsite. The intelligent plant is collecting more data and analyzing it for greater optimization, efficiency, and predictive maintenance.
Click on the photo below to reveal a wide range of smart manufacturing.
ATS Automation's ATS SmartVision software delivers high-performance image processing with an easy-to-use control interface, while ATS Cortex hardware is designed to reduce integration time and deliver electrical hardware savings. (Source: ATS Automation)
Some of these smart plant technologies, too, are what will allow manufacturers to be a part of the Internet of things, connecting myriad devices and systems together for better accessibility, awareness, monitoring and the like.
I'm not sure they're less commonly used Chuck (though I'd guess they are), but the devices are coming with embedded intelligence that makes deployment easier and quicker. So the integrator's visit is bound to be considrably shorter.
Rob, I would like to second that. This is an interesting area. Many people are not very much tuned in with it, but the application of computer technologies to the shop floor is what is keeing the US in the game.
Intersting slideshow, Rob, about how things are improving in the plant environment thanks to the use of new technology. These technologies are evolving quickly, it seems, and that's a good thing. Anything to make the environment cleaner, quieter and more efficient is certainly welcome.