If you time-traveled 20 years into the future, would you even recognize your operations?
It’s a question I got to thinking about as I reflect on the initial release of our Logix control platform. When Logix was first released, it introduced new techniques and methods to address long-standing challenges.
Not only did it have more memory and faster performance than its predecessor, it also allowed users to converge different production disciplines — like discrete, motion, process and safety — into an integrated plant-wide architecture.
Looking ahead to the next 20 years, the Logix platform and other digital technologies offer even more transformative potential – to entirely change how we design, manage and staff operations.
But that potential still eludes many in the industrial world because concepts like Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing are too “blue sky” and difficult to translate into real-world improvements.
While a PLC is tangible and its performance is measurable, something like Industry 4.0 is abstract and bound only by the limits of our imagination.
With this in mind, let’s look at three concrete, achievable examples of how operations will change in a smart factory within 20 years.
Predictive Asset Maintenance
Some organizations today have implemented this capability, but most still use reactive or calendar-based maintenance.
Predictive asset maintenance works like this: analytics software collects relevant data from PLCs, sensors and other sources, then looks for known patterns that predict failures or anomalies that could lead to a failure.
This allows maintenance technicians – or perhaps, someday, robots – to fix problems in production assets before they lead to a failure.
In the coming years, there will even be self-healing assets, including PLCs that can make adjustments on their own and continue running without any servicing.