Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Coming Soon to an Industrial Control System Near You...

Posted by Adam Kennedy

In the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the globe and speak with thought leaders from all aspects of the Automation Industry—from discrete manufacturing to Internet of Things (IoT) and everything in-between. It has truly been an amazing education! Among these distinct disciplines, it is clear that there are some exciting innovations and improvements on the horizon. I often find myself thinking about the possibilities and begin scripting what sounds like the narrative to a summer blockbuster movie trailer! Queue the deep voice with ominous tones… iStock_000004600138Small

In a world where machines talk to machines and humans are able to monitor and control complex processes from anywhere on the globe; where vast quantities of data are collected and analyzed from sources once thought impossible to reach; a place where vital split-second decisions are executed at staggering frequency: This is a place where information and execution are critical to the survival of the planet. This is…The Land of Automation!

Perhaps this is a little dramatic, but there are massive challenges facing our industry and an increasing number of diverse solutions developed to address them. Working at Kepware directs my focus towards the communications layer, but throughout my travels it seems like the demand for reliable and easily accessible data is more essential than ever. The question is, how do we want to obtain and consume the data?

End users are demanding information and control through a growing landscape of platforms and from a myriad of devices. How can data acquisition be accomplished efficiently with “future-proof” solutions? Concepts such as machine-to-machine communications continue to generate interest and enthusiasm, but without a clear industry architecture for deployment, can they be effectively maintained? And where does the data “live” when collected? Can industrial applications reliably operate in the cloud? Is the importance of your operating system now taking a backseat to your web browser and Internet connection? Will open protocols like OPC continue to serve as the backbone of industrial communications?

Today, the questions outnumber the answers. For example, just try and get a unanimous definition of IoT the next time you’re in a room full of experts. I guarantee the results will vary! Regardless, there is no doubt that the data from all our devices will be an essential aspect of how the companies of the future will operate. It’s exciting working at a company that specializes in a communications platform poised to support the data solutions of the future.

I would love to gain our readers’ insight into what challenges and changes they foresee affecting our industry. What scares or excites you the most? How can Kepware make things easy? Please comment on this post, and even email me directly. I’m anxious to hear what you think the future of automation holds!