Smart manufacturing requires modernization. Rapid advances in automation, equipment, and networking technologies accelerate the pace at which production systems approach obsolescence. In the age of The Connected Enterprise®, success will be driven by intelligent equipment, networks, and devices that leverage the latest innovations.
Welcome to the Internet of Things.
Every industry sector is affected, with billions of dollars of automation equipment to be replaced. In 2012, the average age of U.S. industrial equipment rose to its highest level since 1938. That's a problem, because aging infrastructure can cause:
- Safety and environmental problems that put the lives of employees and local residents in jeopardy.
- Downtime and excessive maintenance.
- Security breaches as hackers target older devices — and compromise enterprise systems.
- Fruitless searches for replacement parts to keep systems functional.
- Production stoppages and the financial fallout.
Few manufacturers or industrial operators can modernize all their automation at once. Savvy executives balance the need for new automation vs. the risks inherent in old systems, capital-expenditure budgets, and the likelihood that new regulations may force equipment changes. In doing so they systematically address:
- Immediate problems: Unreliable equipment that fails repeatedly, damaging customer service.
- Near-term problems: Aging automation that delivers less-than-optimum performance.
- Near-term risks: Potential security breaches via aging devices.
- New opportunities: Potential return on investment from IoT-enabled automation that reduces costs (via improved quality, safety, energy usage, productivity, etc.), drives improvement (better asset management, plant optimization) and increases innovation.
- Long-term flexibility: Scalable automation upgrades that extend equipment life.
Rockwell Automation has over a decade of experience — both internally and with our customers — in helping manufacturers to develop Connected Enterprises.
Over that time, not a single executive has ever said: “I wish we'd waited longer to modernize our facilities, lower costs, improve performance, and boost the bottom line.
Published March 7, 2016