Industry 4.0 is here for real. At the heart of Industry 4.0 is Automation. Preferably, we would like to fully automate the manufacturing process, from end to end if possible. As part of the automation process, there will be very little manpower required, except for those who are in control of the process. Having said that, and in reality, we will still see a lot of humans on the processing chain because machines are not capable of learning why something goes awry and also they could not be depended on to rectify themselves. So, some experts predict that even if we have automation and robots to help, we will still see many more field experts to help keep run the processing machines.
Early concepts of automation will see a centralised control from a computing unit. As advancement comes the ability of components to take over control from the central unit because there is advantage to have individual units take over control themselves. This comes about because as integrated units grew larger, it would be better to split up the control to avoid latency issues. In this respect, things like edge computing will replace the conventional system. As customisation of order becomes more acceptable, it would be better to split up control such that there will not be an unexpected shutdown of systems.
An efficient automation system will encompass PLC, DCS, SCADA, Drives, IT and safety and security solutions. Efficient, phased migration for large integrated system projects minimises unexpected operational disruptions and plant access limitations, while offering effective management of capital expenditure. This is achieved with rigorous quality protocols from specification to completion, with systems experts ensuring that applications are robust, well documented and fit for purpose which might require different treatment with different environments. In a well-designed system, the processes will include:
* PLC, PAC and DCS systems
* SCADA, HMI and Web Interfaces
* Data with realtime analytics
* AC, Servo and DC drive systems
* Safety systems (Process & Functional)
* Systems Support
* Control System Migration
In all probability, an intelligent and robust automation system will run from a remote assisted platform that allows you to intervene from anywhere, reducing maintenance costs and time, also incorporating an AI unit to assist you in times of uncertainties that might crop up.