Feature article

Obstacles to automation

Lack of internal resources, resistance to remote connectivity, and lack of knowledge are impeding adoption of more automation for packaging and processing plants.

A new study released at PACK EXPO Las Vegas reveals automation is a slow, gradual evolutionary curve for OEMS and end users alike.  And there are many barriers to easy adoption.

Lack of qualified labor drives the need for more automation, but cost of such a large investment must be made gradually, slowing the process down.

Ironically enough, some medium and small end users and OEMs do not need all the bells and whistles, often lacking the skill set to operate sophisticated equipment offerings.  So legacy equipment remains in place and sometimes manual operations are more suitable.

IT and OT joining forces remains a challenge, with disparate communication systems on the same line, infrastructure limitations, and overcoming end user reluctance to connect their machines in the cloud.   Food and pharma processors and packagers a reluctant to surrender control of intellectual property, security and privacy.

Finally, there is much confusion over the many systems offered, a lack of understanding of the technology available and how to implement it.

All these factors serve to slow down adoption of automated solutions.  The report predicts it will take a generation for data science to optimize process, but the tools are largely in place.  Digitization, sensors, mobility and security are all evolving rapidly.

Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, 2017 Evolution of Automation Report. Download a FREE Executive Summary here. Members download the entire report FREE.

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