Automation is often synonymous with agility. Processes that once required several steps and human intervention are simplified (at least in appearance) thanks to new technologies. Automation in companies can affect different sectors: from management to production, and it no longer seems possible to postpone.
Automation and the adaptive challenge
What is happening and that can no longer be ignored, in fact, is that companies are facing a market that requires increasingly customized products, in the shortest possible time, with production divided into smaller batches, and with products’ shorter life cycle. A smart factory.
To obtain this flexibility, all functions must necessarily refer to the same advanced software, a development and control environment, which includes PLC, HMI, I/O, motion, robots, intelligent systems for transporting goods, vision systems, security, IIoT connectivity and diagnostics. A unique big brain, which allows for unprecedented synchronization and flexibility.
Which automation to choose?
This translates into creating or transforming your production system into an operational environment with totally new capabilities, efficient, sustainable, and ready to communicate with other systems and the outside world.
The difficulty now is precisely to understand in which direction it is more appropriate to invest.
Cloud native technologies
One example is cloud native technologies: a new approach to designing and managing workloads, enabling engineers to “make high impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal effort.”
Neil Ballinger, Director EMEA at automation parts supplier EU Automation predicts that cloud native will become the most popular application in 2022.
Another example is low-code automation platforms: these allow users with limited coding knowledge to automate processes using graphical interfaces, instead of programming the computer in the traditional way. A bit of what it is already possible to do on some smartphones with the so-called quick commands.
This also allows you to optimize resources, because teams of engineers and IT professionals would reduce manual work, focusing on strategies to promote business growth.
Gartner predicts that this trend will make up more than 65% of all application development functions by 2024 and that approximately 66% of large enterprises will use at least four low-code platforms.
Digital twins and predictive maintenance
Another automation technology to consider will be the one that will facilitate remote work and maintenance, the so-called digital twins.
A digital twin, also thanks to the aid of augmented reality and predictive maintenance, can in fact be connected to the sensors of a machine to detect its parameters and to prevent failures, or be used to simulate new processes and equipment, before investing resources . Not only cost and time savings, but also waste reduction, for increasingly intelligent and sustainable factories.
Over 70% of manufacturers plan to implement these solutions by the end of 2022, to run simulations of processes and different scenarios.
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