and solar power, modernization using Smart Grid technologies, energy and
sustainability issues are key trends moving forward for automation and control,
according to Raj Batra, president of the Industry Automation Division for
Siemens Industry Inc. Batra made these remarks during his keynote address at
the recent Siemens Automation Summit in Charlotte, NC.
Batra says key trends and areas to watch in
automation control moving forward are renewable energy applications such as
wind and solar power. Renewable energy sources are becoming a viable part of the
total energy mix. Wind is helping to revitalize rural areas, can be produced at
the source and doesn't need to mined or transported.
"The U.S. solar power market is growing
dramatically with Siemens technology driving four of the five largest U.S.
solar installations," Batra says. "Solar PV in the U.S. is currently providing
340 MW of power and, in just five years, it is forecast to generate nearly 2,700
MW of power."
Nearly 34 percent of all global
polysilicon solar cell production is based in the U.S. Currently there are 49
solar installations in the U.S. but, by 2015, analysts are forecasting 340 U.S.
Batra notes that another important trend to
watch is Smart Grid technology and, with two-thirds of all energy consumed by
industry, companies should play a vital role in defining how the Smart Grid
Power outages cost the U.S. $150
billion per year, and he says there is a massive opportunity to revamp a grid
which consists of 9,200 electric generating units, more than 1,000,000 MW of
capacity and a network of 300,000 miles of transmission lines.
All this means that intense investments will
be required, including $11 billion from the American Reinvestment and Recovery
Act and, according the Brattle Group, what is forecasted as a $1.5 trillion
investment over the next 20 years.
investments, our energy sources will become more reliable, efficient, secure
and sustainable," says Batra. "Smart Grid will also change the way we run our
plants, putting more emphasis on two-way communication to the grid, plant-wide
asset management and dealing with the flood of data generated by the grid."
Closely related to Smart Grid development is
a push toward energy efficiency including innovations available today such as
PROFIenergy which is a simple extension to the PROFINET protocol. The emphasis
with PROFIenergy is new technology that makes it possible to monitor and
control energy by putting unused loads in sleep mode, and dramatically reduce
energy consumption during idle periods.
Batra also notes that energy
efficiency is an essential part of environmental protection. As the tragedy of
the oil spill in the Gulf has made so painfully clear, we can't over-estimate the
importance of business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
Sustainability has become part of
the fabric of American business and Siemens has set aggressive targets for its
own production to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, CO2
emissions and water consumption by 20 percent and waste production by 15
Batra also notes a clear trend and priority
for better product lifecycle management, production and combining the supply
chain into an integrated whole.
"We are driving a paradigm shift in
manufacturing by linking all stages of production together, from product
design, production design, production, delivery and ultimately disposal," Batra
says. "This means that visualization of the entire production process can
happen before your plant is even built."
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
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