Automation meets Industrial Edge
Things are changing quickly, and we must adapt. We see it in our daily life – sometimes small, barely noticeable, sometimes big with immediate impact to everyone.
All these changes influence our production and how we prepare production for the future as well.
One of the biggest challenges companies face is increasing flexibility and faster time to market while reducing production cost simultaneously. While this challenge isn’t new, the pressure to adapt has greatly increased in recent years.
What can companies do today to prepare for production tomorrow?
Production data everywhere
New production concepts for Industry 4.0 don’t rely on the classical International Society of Automation (ISA) automation pyramid anymore. Instead, they split production in smaller and flexible units which exchange data on many levels.
This requires flexible and scalable human machine interface (HMI) systems where you can use the same project and screens on a 7’’ HMI panel, an SCADA system or a smart phone. The data is available in real time on any device when you need it without increased programming effort.
This allows you to adapt your production to the ever-changing requirements while using existing automation equipment.
Continuously increasing productivity is everyone’s goal. The challenge is how to adapt production while keeping everything running smoothly.
This is where edge devices can help. Edge devices provide a platform to run analytics, predictive maintenance, and other new tools that help to optimize production without interfering with production itself.
An edge device could be an IPC or the edge functionality can be integrated in the automation device like an HMI panel itself. This way the HMI panel fulfills both requirements, i.e. ensuring stable production while allowing for a high degree of flexibility in running new programs or tools that help continuously increase productivity.
One possible use case might be to have the HMI device controlling the machine, while the edge portion of the device collects additional data for predictive maintenance or runs complex algorithms for machine optimization.
Of course, this combined functionality isn’t just beneficial for HMI devices. PLC modules, drives and network devices with integrated edge functionality will allow for further increase in productivity as well.
To summarize – combining a scalable HMI system covering 7’’ HMI Panels as well as SCADA systems with additional Edge functionality provides a unique advantage for future machine & plant designs. These new systems provide a high degree of flexibility and adaptability to quickly react to changing market environments and while maintaining fast innovations cycles.