Recently, I came across a white paper from the ARC Advisory Group. The research for the white paper was partly sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. It focuses on Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. While the push to quickly integrate these new technologies has been going on for some time it seems clear that most manufacturers will evolve gradually.
As factory automation machines are repaired or improved, they are fitted with newer technology that offers backward compatibility to the original design. For new turnkey operations, the latest in factory automation is integrated to ensure the best performance output.
Within the white paper, a real-world situation of a wastewater treatment plant is highlighted. Existing pump and motor technologies were fitted with sensors to detect abnormal operations. This allowed the municipality to perform scheduled maintenance and prevent an expensive breakdown. These upgrades in technology were piecemeal but ensured newer technology could monitor older. Further, the ubiquity of the device communication, CC-Link in this case, ensures against obsolescence.
There is no single approach to this evolution. Technologies conform to all budgets and speed to integration can also be considered. For example, if a manufacturer needs to improve the quality of their product then perhaps a standalone poka-yoke system is a much faster and less expensive addition than an entirely new automation machine. This is well described in a portion of the white paper on page 5:
“Industrial companies do not have to choose between evolution and revolution: it is possible and realistic to combine continuous improvements such as manufacturing excellence or lean manufacturing with step-change improvements; as business process improvement and radical improvements in manufacturing depend on strategy, goals, and priorities.”
MISUMI provides the best industrial-grade components for your factory automation project. Whether you need to make an improvement within your existing process or find components for a new machine build, our platform makes it easy to find cables, PLCs, HMIs, and other products for your project.