With industrial automation gaining more limelight in recent times, man and machines have started working more closely than ever before. In retrospect, it is quite evident that technology has massively evolved; thereby, transforming the nature of industrial and manufacturing operations. Industries are no longer entirely dependent on a human workforce for simple or complex tasks. The capabilities and technologies of future manufacturing are increasingly coming into sharp focus. In an effort to drive down the unit price and maximize profit margins, industrial automation has gained prominence since it has historically helped reduce manufacturing costs, eliminate variability in product quality, and rapidly produce commodities in high volume. Furthermore, with industrial automation trends like digitalization and IoT, industrial automation has become a competitive advantage in today’s industrial landscape.
Industrial cybersecurity: A must-have
The rising rate of cyber-attacks has put cybersecurity on the forefront of concerns in industrial automation. Fortunately, advances in industrial automation trends and cybersecurity management are playing a crucial role in addressing the vital requirements of industrial automation applications, equipment, and plants as these relate to stringent constraints on network communications and system updates. Today’s advanced cybersecurity solutions include both behavior-based anomaly detection that helps to identify would-be cyber threats using conventional cybersecurity approaches and rule-based analysis that allows manufacturers to leverage deep inspection to uncover malware cyberattacks on the network.
Digital twins and IIoT
The concept of ‘digital twins’ is concerned with the creation of a virtual copy of a machine or system. This is now becoming a prerequisite in the product development landscape and is one of the popular industrial automation trends this year. As IIoT grows, manufacturers will have to spend a lot of time testing new systems on the floor. While connected networks help, creating digital twins of the products/services and testing them thoroughly in a virtual environment before going live can also help manufacturers avoid downtime problems and save them from committing actual resources. Additionally, these industrial automation trends will help them in fixing issues on the factory floor before going live and allow for continuous design and manufacturing improvements.
Improved accuracy with machine learning
AI and machine learning capabilities have, at present, become the most popular industrial automation trends. These technologies have already penetrated the customer relationship management segments and are a cornerstone of Industry 4.0, Big Data, and IoT. Manufacturing units can leverage data analytics and machine learning for their process improvements. These systems help in predicting yield rates at various supply chain levels; thereby, reducing the cost of raw materials and ensuring brand quality. Furthermore, AI provides real-time operational intelligence that supports product lifecycle management, which includes process integration, automation and collaboration insights, monitoring, and diagnostics.
AR and VR
Simulator-based training is an effective way of training factory staff. IIoT-enabled technologies such as gaming, augmented/virtual reality, 3D immersive and wearable devices can improve learning and help develop skills by replicating real-life plant scenarios. This technology can help manufacturers understand how employees will react to worst-case scenarios and plan emergency procedures.