Feature article

The automated, integrated plant of the future will emerge with the growth of smart machines

The Evolution of Automation 2017, a study released last Fall by PMMI Business Intelligence, says US manufacturers will need smart machines to be more competitive in the global market.

The CPG industry will expand the level of intelligence derived from plant floor machinery in order to accommodate more predictive planning and more flexible business needs. Machine automation and line integration are growing in every industry and at every stage of manufacturing. Sensors are getting smaller, actuation is getting faster, vision inspection is more reliable, robotics is moving out of packaging and improving efficiencies up the line – all to maintain maximum uptime.

The progression to smart machines will have a major impact on how OEMs design machines, how data management systems are implemented, and how lines are integrated with communications.

“Disparate platforms, languages, and a lack of standards are all hurdles to overcome,” says one automation supplier. But automation is moving forward and there seem to be no insurmountable hurdles to greatly hinder its growth, according to the 58-page report.

Four key characteristics of smart machines include efficiency which encompasses self-awareness and data management, safety and cybersecurity, flexibility such as modular design, plug and work, and reusable design, and connectivity, including network and digital mobility.

Download the executive summary for free here. Plan now to attend the Automation Conference & Expo, May 22-23 at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare. Gain a better understanding of the most critical technologies and strategies for improving your manufacturing operation and staying ahead of the competition.

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