In the last few years, manufacturing automation has seen some giant leaps ahead – more efficiency in the factory processes along with higher reliability. This has also lead to a conspicuous improvement in the quality of the output. With IoT that is driven by increased usage of intelligent sensors and universal connectivity, the necessity for operator intervention in manual settings or in open control loops is becoming increasingly less. At the same time, closed-loop controls too are changing.
In factory automation, IoT can help to streamline, collapse, and create more affordable, responsive, and effective system architectures. This delivers frictionless communications and interaction from manufacturing field input/output (I/O) that includes sensors, actuators, analyzers, drives, vision, video, and robotics. IoT can assure better manufacturing performance and flexibility. Wireless IP devices, including smartphones, tablets, and sensors, are already being used in manufacturing.
The IP-enabled factory automation architecture can now deliver functions for the new generation of powerful industrial controllers and sensors/actuators with embedded processors, eliminating the need for middle-level software that is cumbersome, expensive, and difficult to maintain. Along with intelligent sensors and machines, IoT leverages cloud computing, analytics, Big Data, mobility, and visualization. These technologies today make sure enterprises have much better business performance, production efficiency, and asset optimization. For any business to grow, these objectives are the core focus, and more so for the manufacturing business because they need to adopt and implement new technologies to stay in the game.
Having IoT on the factory floor gives the company the ability to constantly monitor production data so processes can be improved in the entire system. A further benefit it provides is the ability to monitor and troubleshoot the process remotely at any time, because of the constant connectivity.
In a new development, Factory Automation (FA) solution providers are now offering innovative concepts that aim to reduce production costs across the board. Controlling costs from development and manufacturing to maintenance and leveraging advanced IT tools can help optimize factories and support production systems of the future.
In fact, advanced FA and IT data communication technologies get benefits by optimal utilization of the production infrastructure. The factory automation tool helps in increasing the operating rate, decreasing the lead-time, reducing the cost, and enhancing the quality –issues that manufacturing industry constantly face. FA-IT information interface produces innovative solutions that embody the digital system. They connect production equipment directly to a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and further on to a higher IT system.
Modern FA systems offer vertical integration with its MES Interfaces, and horizontal hardware integration of all its automation products for the factory floor. When it is designed around a Platform which integrates all aspects of automation into a main programmable automation controller- with controllers, CNC, Robots, HMIs, engineering environment, and networking, – it will result in reduced TCO.
While most users say that implementation of IoT based infrastructure in a factory shop floor doesn’t come cheap, in terms of technology, tools or even resources, the benefits ensure a very high RoI. And the shop floor will meet the goals of improving productivity and also enhancing product quality.