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Industry Comment

Industry leaders in manufacturing are frustrated by the lack of recent innovation in the factory automation arena. In spite of all the internet-based software technology innovation that is simplifying and transforming other industries, the general consensus is that factory control and information system integration is a technological laggard. The means to transform and simplify manufacturing automation design integration from top floor to shop floor is available. It’s just not available from the existing Industrial Automation vendors.

“Today, the engineering of manufacturing systems focuses on the construction of special purpose machines for a single product and for a constant output flow and virtually every new piece of automation has its own unique control system. As a result, nearly every machine is built as “one-of-a-kind” and 80% of the engineering effort is devoted to re-implementing the control and related electrical systems each time a new machine is implemented. Engineering tasks cannot be run in parallel, so that application testing cannot take place before final installation at the end user site. The use of a plethora of incompatible tools for disparate technologies further reduces efficiency, both at design time and during operation. Since engineering cost accounts for 70% of the overall cost of an automation project, “automating the automation engineering work” is strongly needed. Hardware only accounts for 30% of the overall cost of an automation project, the remaining 70% being personnel cost. Consequently, the main challenge is not to reduce the device costs, but to improve the cost-effectiveness of the automation engineering work.”

Use of Web Services for next-generation automation systems, François Jammes & Harm Smit, Schneider Electric, Antoine Mensch, Odonata, Robert Harrison & Tom Kirkham, Loughborough University, January 2009

“Industrial plants of any reasonable size are unlikely to have a single control system architecture installed and the trend is to have a software platform to unify operations and information flow to improve decision making, increase agility, reduce risk, and improve production efficiency. This is going to be accomplished more often by selecting a unifying software architecture supplied by one vendor. These platforms are based on an open software architecture that incorporate a high performance real-time database and support various industry standards including OPC, OPC UA, B2MML, multiple native protocol drivers, ERP interfaces, and IT database interfaces. The key to success will be software platforms that can integrate 3rd party software applications using open standards and be easily configured for applications without custom software.”

Bill Lydon, Editor of, Automation & Control Trends in 2013, January 2013

“Integration is a cost to be avoided. Minimise it using OPC UA. Its value is huge… OPC UA is a disruptive technology that will change the way we do business.”

Mitch Vaughn, Siemens, on Siemens Integration with OPC UA, ARC world industry forum, Nov 2012

“While disparate point solutions are required to address critical functionalities associated with planning, asset management, quality and execution, without interoperability and integration it is extremely difficult if not impossible to drive operational excellence in an on-going manner. A holistic approach that takes a unified systems view… is critical in the drive towards an overall continuous performance improvement.”

Cognizant White Paper, Operational Excellence in Process Industries, 2011

“The need for higher productivity and greater efficiency drives organisations to implement greater interaction between the factory floor and enterprise across all end-users.”

Frost & Sullivan, What’s Hot in the Industrial Automation and Process Control Industry, Key Market Highlights, May 2012

“We see two primary areas where vertical convergence is likely to occur:

  1. Automation vendors seeking to expand their offerings from plant instruments (robots, drives), to plant level controls (DCS, PLC),
  2. Automation vendors seeking to expand their plant level controls (DCS, PLC) to enterprise level controls (MES, ERP, PLM)”

Credit Suisse, Global Industrial Automation, August 2012

“One of the keys to success is software, where, if you look at it logically, all the different threads run together. Manufacturers need to focus more on developing software solutions where usability and openness are the most important features. On the other side, users need to be willing to spend more money on software, to underline the value of these new solutions. If users of automation technology were like the customers of video game developers, they would often throw the software right back at automation providers. We should be reading enthusiastic comments about automation software in user forums, instead of frustrated and angry ones. The automation industry is in a state of change, a change that needs to be shaped in a way that satisfies users. Chances are pretty good that users will be satisfied, because the technological conditions to do so already exist.”

Martin Buchwitz, Editor in Chief, SPS-Magazine, Automation World, July 2013

“The pharmaceutical world has reached a crossroads. As financial pressures reduce margins, reimbursement opportunities and budgets, we must look beyond our traditional business model to improve efficiency. The need to limit manufacturing costs, without compromising on product quality, safety and compliance is becoming more urgent. To be profitable while responding to market demand and increasingly tight regulatory requirements, pharmaceutical manufacturers must develop new factory concepts.”

Thomas Zimmer, Chair of the ISPE Conference: The Future of European Pharma, August 2012

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