More than half of the survey respondents identified the ability for controllers to handle additional machine control functions (54.7 percent) and lower hardware costs (51.4 percent) as top priorities, along with one controller for both machine control and operator interfaces (41.3 percent).
I find it very interesting the slice of the pie that relates to satisfying the needs and desires of a generation of engineers who grew up playing video games. We'll see more and more of this in coming years. Smart vendors will deliver HMI that fits the upcoming generation.
There is a move in machine control (via networking developments such as CIPenergy, PROFIenergy and SERCOS Energy) to more easily measure and control energy usage within manufacturing plants. One simple example of low hanging fruit is putting machines into a low power standby or sleep state during production pauses (lunch, breaks, etc.) which has been shown to reduce energy usage 20-30% during the pauses.
The question in the survey was intended to query users on how important reducing energy is perceived among users and machine builders. Basically one-third of the survey respondents identified energy as an area of potential improvement.
I think that Wylie's comment that focus on energy efficiency would be a growing factor is based on this technology moving forward and producing significant results.
Al, Denis Wylie mentions energy monitoring becoming more important in the future. The survey shows that it is not a major consideration today. The reality is that energy consumption in the US, and the developing world, is going down. Older coal fired plants, the ones that would cost a lot to bring into compliance, are being shut down and not replaced. Basically, each generation of machine, whether it be a refrigator or a computer, uses less energy than the last. Just the process of replacing worn out equipment over time brings down usage without any special consideration. We are becoming more energy efficient by default. There are lots of other issues with machine control than energy, as the survey shows.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have published two physics-based models for the selective laser melting (SLM) metals additive manufacturing process, so engineers can understand how it works at the powder and scales, and develop better parts with less trial and error.
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