The push to achieving more intelligent, integrated manufacturing is putting a strong focus on networking and connectivity as key enabling technologies. At first, that might seem surprising, given the ongoing technology push to make automation faster, cheaper, and more productive. But it seems that automation control suppliers are telling us that the key to smarter manufacturing is actually stronger, more coordinated, flexible links between production and the enterprise itself.
The common mantra among control suppliers is that OEM machinery builders are using a single control and information platform to connect the plant floor to the enterprise, and to meet end-user demands for throughput, efficiency, flexibility, and downtime. OEMs are realizing the benefits of using a single control and information platform to demonstrate a high level of intelligence with the ability to consume and generate information automatically, adapt to new situations, and give them the remote access and insight.
According to Christopher Zei, vice president of the global industry group at Rockwell Automation, there are three important messages and goals to consider. One has to do with the end users' goal of plant-wide optimization as they seek lower total cost of ownership (TCO). A second is machine builder performance: how building better machines can help users achieve their TCO objectives, and how machine builders can better partner with those users. A third message involves sustainability initiatives that support manufacturing efforts.
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