TOP 5 IN 2011: Industrial automation technologies to watch for in the new year - UDAYAN PANDYAWritten by Mary Del Ciancio Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:43
Table of contents
Udayan Pandya is the business unit manager for Automation Systems at Siemens Canada.
1. RFID: The future of automation lies in non-contact, non-optical tracking across longer distances, with the ability to gather a diverse amount of data. We are at the point where raw materials can be tagged as they are being assembled, giving manufacturers the ability to track each part in an end product. This will benefit both the manufacturer and the end user with inventory management, and in situations concerning product recalls where specific units are defective and can be targeted for replacement.
2. Wireless safety: Writing safety software into a device and eliminating the need for excess parts will become more present in the next year, along with the continuing efforts to introduce wireless safety solutions. As it stands, PROFIsafe on PROFINET is the only network approved by the IEC for wireless safety, which reflects the skepticism in the market. Wireless safety with innovative solutions, however, will enable a paradigm shift.
3. PROFIenergy: PROFIenergy allows the switching off of unused sensors/actuators during production breaks in an open architecture format. This application provides a means to save a facility up to 60 percent on its energy costs. As the economy recovers, customers will be looking to invest in the capability to save their dollars for their business.
4. Integrated engineering framework: By combining industrial software with automation engineering, we can significantly reduce the time taken to get a new product to market. The key is to eliminate the time needed to update interfaces and the errors that can occur, which both cost the manufacturer hours of unneeded labour. However, the standardization of the engineering systems, controllers and HMIs into one consistent interface should be designed with improved usability and a highly efficient, short learning curve in mind.
5. Embedded controls: The concept of embedded controls has been present in the marketplace for some time. What is interesting is that solutions such as a dual PC/PLC device have not become prevalent over the two box alternative. One concern in particular is the fear that one system failing will affect the other. In most situations this is not the case. Conversely, the benefits of having a real-time operating system, no rotating media, and the ability to handle higher temperatures without a fan component cannot be ignored. I am confident that we will see a trend to more embedded technology in 2011.