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Making Manufacturing Smart
Published on 05/29/2017 | Technology
Manufacturing operations occupy a unique position in the automation technology landscape. Machinery and production automation systems need to be advanced enough to deliver high performance and integrated enough to provide economical operation, yet must be based on mature products and methodologies offering sufficient reliability.
“Cutting edge” technology can be employed, but “bleeding edge” technology is usually not warranted. How is the right balance achieved? In fact, why push for tightly integrated operational information and other advanced functionality if individual pieces are running “good enough”?
The main reason is because harvesting, processing and analyzing the correct data helps operational personnel make the best informed choices at their facilities, and enables management to optimize strategic plans throughout multiple locations. Simply put, advanced data analytics improves efficiency, reduces maintenance, and creates a safer work environment.
Fortunately, in recent years a number of device, communication, and software capabilities have developed in an interrelated manner—making it easier to extract and analyze manufacturing data. When combined effectively, they can elevate “business as usual” manufacturing to “smart” manufacturing. In fact, in many ways automated manufacturing is already smarter than one might expect.
Machinery and process plants commonly employ control systems with many types of sensors. While the highly touted Internet of Things (IoT) concept promises that one day all devices will become networked information providers, it turns out that the Industrial IoT (IIoT) already has countless sensors and other devices reporting data to higher level automation systems. Where the IoT is directed toward consumer convenience, the IIoT takes a laser focus on efficiency and safety.
Manufacturers such as Advantech offer a spectrum of hardware and software to facilitate gathering information from the lowest level sensor, or any machine, and routing it over a network to higher level automation, visualization, and information systems. Automation controllers pre-process and package the raw information from sensors and other field devices. These devices are the “things” in the IIoT.
Industrial wired and wireless networks, working in conjunction with the Internet and cloud services, are the superhighway for moving information. This information moves from field controllers to human machine interfaces (HMIs) located on the plant floor and in control rooms, and from the HMIs to front office PCs and out into the mobile world of smartphones and tablets.
Smart manufacturing is a powerful trend, building on readily available hardware and software to take production operations to the next level of performance. This White Paper will examine the reasons for implementing IIoT technologies, and will point out many enabling technologies and methods to make smart manufacturing a reality. It will also discuss how smart manufacturing benefits users in specific ways.
You can read and download the full report on Advantech here.