Seamless Connectivity -> Boundless Automation
Published on : Saturday 06-08-2022
Seamless connectivity in networking enables service providers to run more effectively, offering customers a better quality of experience and greater reliability, says Soundharyaa Nandakumar.
With respect to substantially increasing the complex production process, the managing entities of manufacturing industries are tending to new generation automation systems at a fast phase. These manufacturing industries are evolving stage by stage from pure mass production to higher end individualisation, which can no longer be handled by traditional methods, which were once designed to make a single product. Manufacturers are in need of small and flexible production units, which can be easily adapted and reconfigured to new products every now and then, to cope up with ever changing customer demands, changing architecture, and economically decreasing batch size.
Seamless connectivity, open process automation or new technological development, Digitisation acts as a major pillar of support, offering companies great opportunities and support to shape their existence in further successfully. No matter how beautiful a flower is, we cannot adore the beauty of it without being stung from its stem, likewise, digital transformation also calls for challenges, questions, in respect to networking, analytics, and new business models. In general there are no fixed rules for handling successful digital transformation; rather they need exclusive solutions for their problems or requirements.
Technologies complementing each other
When we look up to this article theme, Seamless Connectivity and Open Automation are mostly two generic terms, which complement each other very well. The industries that are opting for Open Automation – often called Adaptive Manufacturing systems – are in need of open communication for seamless connectivity of networking, real time processing, etc. The new generation of open communication will give way to single solutions over multiple proprietary systems for seamless connectivity. With single solution, the entire engineering process is simplified drastically. This enhanced connectivity for manufacturing and new features for secure server deployment allows enterprises standardise industrial networking communications, which in turn results in increased operational efficiencies. Managing entities often incline themselves on a mix of commercial and home grown connectivity tools to navigate complex and diverse production environments. These increased complexities, costs and bandwidth spent retrieving industrial data, have created a need for a single solution, through which enterprises can connect all their production assets.
Let’s first understand what Open Automation is. It is said to be a new generation of automation system, with different architecture than today’s process automation, involving Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). Process automation systems generally need ultra-high availability and real time performance especially true at the controller and process I/O level, which makes systems very difficult to update or replace, whereas in Open Automation, the managing entities believe that this will make the work easier, resulting in improvised manufacturing processes, easier to update, maintain and focus less on automating the various systems.
As we know, digitisation plays a very import role in Open Process Automation, but we also need to juggle the pillar substantially for open automation, as they act in a very cyclic way.
1. Modular Software Applications – which connect the world to modern engineering making Automation lot easier, e.g., Python, SQL, C++, etc.
2. Cloud – connects modern automations systems to the digital world of IoT safely, e.g., AWS, SAP cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM, etc.
3. Cybersecurity – when it comes to open Automation and open communication, security is very much exclusive – which is quite much of a contrast, e.g., HTTPS, FIREWALL, SSH, OPENVPN, IPSEL, etc.
4. Connectivity – it is all about communication, taking advantage of maximum independence and flexibility for easier automation, e.g., Ethernet, CAN, Profi Bus.
The manufacturers of automation and IT technologies are marking their territory in vendor-agnostic communication with Open Automation over Process Automation. So far, machine proprietors have put down their great efforts and expense of time and money in defining multiple interfaces in systems to automate, but with Open Automation, the single solution has made any raw data understandable through any network, eliminating all types of potential errors to make adaptable machine concepts for automation.
The vision and scope of Open Automation can be clearly understood with the following statements:
• Enables access to a leading-edge capability
• Allows integration of best-in-class components
• Preserves asset owners' application software; significantly lowers cost of future replacement
• Promotes innovation and value creation
• Applies across multiple process industries
• Encourages innovation and value creation
• Is commercially available
• Is an inclusive collaboration between users and suppliers to provide the framework for an open systems architecture innovation and value creation.
Fuelling industrial innovation
There is always an unmet need for reliable networking connectivity in remote, complex manufacturing environments, and this network reliability is the only means to turn industrial data insights into smart decision making for better outcomes. In many manufacturing industries, authorities think operational processes are designed with the assumption that staff will be on site all the time, but the Covid-19 pandemic has taught anything is possible through advanced network connectivity and technologies, which has in return accelerated modernisation and digitisation across the industry, by empowering them with new opportunities in many ways.
Seamless connectivity in networking enables service providers to run more effectively, offering customers a better quality of experience and greater reliability. Growing customer demand for flexible services, along with developing trends such as Internet of Things and Virtual Reality are helping service providers in extending their businesses and embracing new markets. On the other hand, networking has become more complex, since service providers are accessing multiple sources for communication, which also inadvertently results in cyber threats, forcing them to look for safer approach.
Examples of Seamless Connectivity and Open Automation
1. Cisco is one of the well-known network providers working hard on developing technology that can support other service providers, as they prepare themselves for the 5G era. The new platform Cisco 5G PowerX uses technologies such as automation and machine learning to enable providers to simplify their operations. It’s an open, programmable architecture providing connectivity from the cloud to the customer. An important feature of the platform is enabling providers to supply seamless connectivity across 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi access, creating many business possibilities.
2. Another real time example involving seamless connectivity and open automation was seen at Hannover Messe, Germany in association with B&R Industrial Automation GmbH from Austria – a first of its kind presentation of a business portfolio involving Open Automation.
The scope of intervention free communication is now a reality, communicating directly from sensor to cloud. Setting up robots and synchronising them with other interfaces was traditionally a complex process, but now Open Process Automation has made it as easy as fitting a component, showing there will no longer any need for on-site robotic controller, or separate robotic application for manufacturing a product.
Soundharyaa Nandakumar has done her Masters in Mechatronics and Cyber-Physical System in Germany and presently working as a Test Engineer, testing Vehicle Electronic Control Units in Connected Drive department. Her previous work experience as an automobile technician has given her a good understanding of how beautiful the car/vehicle is with intricate designs and unbelievable technologies inside. This craze and passion for cars made the decision for her to pursue a career in Automotive Technology.
In her own words, “I always compare cars to women, because we never know what is inside them, how mysterious they are with n number of technologies evolving around every day making them futuristic statements – just like women – undergoing many things in a day to be strong enough to conquer the world.”