Emerging Trends & Technologies in Process Automation
Published by : Industrial Automation
Dr Makarand Sawant presents a brief preview of technology trends in process automation.
Process automation refers to the use of digital technology to perform a process or processes to accomplish a workflow or function. Business Process Automation (BPA) is the use of technology to execute recurring tasks or processes in a business where manual effort can be replaced. It is done to minimise costs, increase efficiency, increase accuracy, optimise and streamline processes. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can improve Process Efficiencies and the Competitiveness of Your Customer Experiences. By use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) technologies Analytics can add value to business.
Cloud Computing enables the handling of large amounts of data needed to automate production processes – making it a key element in the 4th Industrial Revolution. While cloud technologies are already utilised to provide various solution packages such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS), they are being advanced further, soon to reach extraordinarily short reaction times (Edge Computing/Edge Intelligence).
Big Data & Predictive Analytics – Used for real-time decision-making, big data plays a key role in creating value. Equipped with big data and analytics, manufacturing companies can reduce their downtime while increasing their output. Moreover, due to their capability to foresee the failure of machines, predictive analytics act as an enabler for predictive maintenance and will soon be followed by prescriptive analytics. This technology will suggest decision options and allow companies to take full advantage of the results provided by prescriptive analytics.
Predictive Maintenance – A machine should only be repaired when necessary, meaning at a point when a defect is affecting the machine’s performance but keeping it running is still safe. Predictive maintenance can generate considerable cost reductions, avoid unplanned downtimes and minimize production loss.
Augmented Reality (AR) has already reached the right maturity level to be used in a production environment like smart factories. Proven to increase people and process performances by up to 50%, augmented reality significantly decreases costs emerging from human error or inefficiency. A few of the application areas for AR in Industry 4.0 include Operations, Maintenance & Remote Assistance, Training, Quality Control as well as Safety Management.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) commonly known as 3D Printing, the technology’s development has enforced the use of other materials than plastics such as metal, ceramic and even biomaterials. Additive Manufacturing highly benefits cost-efficiency of low-volume productions and positively impacts the supply-chain through shorter delivery times and inventory reduction, adding another cornerstone to the decentralised production model.
Information Cyber Security (ICS) is required in IT/OT integration as the connectivity of Industry 4.0 adds a layer of vulnerability. Wearables of the workforce, for example, reveal the location and personal data, turning corporate espionage and hackers into a legitimate threat. Companies are at high risk of falling victim to potential cyber-attacks, demanding them to increase the security level in manufacturing lines and smart factories.
Dr Makarand Sawant is a PhD in Analytics, he is a technology and business visionary with 22 years of executive and hands on experience in automating multi-billion dollar enterprises. He is a Computer Science engineering graduate with MBA and a Doctorate in Management Studies, Information Technology. He has led Innovation and alignment of IT with business by driving Digital Transformation through Analytics, Process Automation, Mobility, and Cloud including leading Smart Factory, IoT and Industry 4.0 initiatives.