From the editor: Get your head in the cloud

Wednesday September 12, 2018
Written by Kristina Urquhart
September 12, 2018 - I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new editor of Manufacturing AUTOMATION. I come to the magazine from another trade publication in a different industry, so I’ve spent the past few weeks reading through back issues of MA to understand what trends, topics and challenges are most important to manufacturing professionals in Canada.

A few themes are pretty obvious. There’s the impact of the IIoT, whether positive (i.e., a connected, more efficient workplace) or negative (i.e., cybersecurity concerns). And safety remains paramount. Despite factories becoming more automated, workers still must be equipped with the knowledge and tools not only to operate the systems, but also to help avoid injury and fix problems – perhaps more so than in other industries. In fact, according to a 2017 study sponsored by ServiceMax from GE Digital and market-research firm Vanson Bourne, 23 per cent of unscheduled downtime in manufacturing facilities is due to human error, compared to nine per cent in other sectors.

Other themes are less apparent, but they are often the root causes of this industry’s challenges – Paul Hogendoorn of FreePoint Technologies addresses one of them in his column on what can happen when manufacturing companies are paralyzed by fear, especially of technology. And what about Canada’s little-sister syndrome when it comes to how we stack up in the world? Jennifer Rideout of Cisco Canada hits that pervasive nail on the head in her article on how our country’s manufacturers are potentially falling short when it comes to embracing the digital landscape, especially when we evaluate where we’re at compared with other advanced manufacturing sectors around the world. If you think about it, Jennifer and Paul are saying the same thing: the time is now to get your head in the cloud (and, in this case, that’s not a bad thing at all).

We’re going to continue to cover all of this in our upcoming issues, but I’m going to need your help, too. The goal of this publication is to give you the information you need to help you do your job better. So, what kinds of stories would you like to see on these pages? What are you and your company doing to respond to all of these industry changes, or to advance them? Make sure to add me to your mailing lists to keep me in the loop.

I’m also looking forward to getting out into your workplaces and to industry events, starting with IMTS this month. I’ll be in Chicago to see the latest automation technologies and to connect with as many of you as possible. (Watch for a wrap-up of the show in an upcoming issue.) In the meantime, email me to introduce yourself and to tell me what your company has been up to lately. I’d love to know, and I’m sure our other readers would, too.

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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