Over the last several years, there has been significant advances in and adoption of new automation technologies. This rate of change and subsequent adoption will continue to ramp up in the coming year. Many of the recent advances include industrializing some popular consumer technology. This helps accelerate the ongoing convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to support digital transformation.
Top Technology Trends in Automation In 2018, there will be an acceleration of this IT/OT convergence, particularly as this relates to the acceptance of and proliferation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-enabled solutions, cybersecurity, edge computing, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, digital twins, and progress on the Open Process Automation (OPA) front.
In no particular order, here are five key technology trends that will have a major impact on both process and discrete automation in 2018:
Intelligence at the Edge
As more data-intensive compute workloads are pushed to the network edge, real-time remote management and a simplified edge infrastructure are crucial for success. Operational issues, such as managing asset performance to improve production while reducing unplanned downtime will drive end users to deploy edge computing.
Companies that take advantage of self-managed, edge computing infrastructures will be able to unlock additional data that had previously been stranded inside machines and processes. They will also be able to more quickly identify production inefficiencies; compare product quality against manufacturing conditions; and better pinpoint potential safety, production, or environmental issues. Remote management will enable on-site operators to connect in real time with off-site experts to more quickly resolve, or even avoid, downtime events. This will help to free operations people and IT staff to perform their respective roles, making best advantage of their specific expertise.
Additional advances in industrial cybersecurity management solutions will be deployed to address the unique requirements of industrial automation equipment, applications, and plants; particularly as these relate to the stringent constraints on system updates and network communications. These advances will incorporate commercial-type IT cybersecurity management solutions, but in a manner that limits any negative impacts on control system operation.