Standards in Automation
Published on : Sunday 01-08-2021
The month of July witnessed two spectacular space events – the suborbital space flights of billionaire entrepreneurs Sir Richard ‘Virgin’ Branson and Jeff ‘Amazon’ Bezos, both representing first generation, self-made success stories.
As far as space missions go, these were not great achievements in terms of endurance or any scientific breakthrough. What they however demonstrated was innovation in designing rockets or rocket powered planes using available technologies to fly up to 100 km in space using their own resources, also in the process opening alternate avenues for space exploration outside government efforts. In the process, they have opened up the suborbital space for those moneyed enthusiasts seeking the thrill of a few minutes of weightlessness and some breath-taking views of earth from up above. Welcome to the new era of space tourism.
Not everyone is enthused with the idea of these space adventures. Many have dismissed these as expensive hobbies, also arguing that the money spent on these flights could have been better used to address the serious issues of global warming and the resultant climate change. Incidentally the month of July also witnessed unprecedented flood situations in Germany and Belgium in Europe, the Henan province of China, and the India State of Maharashtra, besides other places. A few weeks earlier, parts of Canada witnessed an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures soaring to almost 50-degree Centigrade, in what is described as a once-in-a-1000-year event. At the time of writing this editorial, dozens of wildfires are raging across western United States, a region experiencing an unrelenting drought. The largest of these fires, termed the Bootleg Fire, has consumed more than 400,000 acres of forest, the dry weather making the efforts to put them out difficult. While the world has woken up to the disastrous consequences of climate change, the efforts to battle these are woefully inadequate.
Technology offers many solutions for contemporary problems in industry and the world at large. Industrial automation in the IIoT era has opened up the field wide for emerging technologies with many app-based applications from a myriad of startups and regular vendors. This has also necessitated the need for greater compatibility between existing standards. There are initiatives like the OPC Foundation, where technologies are created to allow information to be easily and securely exchanged between diverse platforms from multiple vendors and allow seamless integration of those platforms. Another initiative is The Open Group, which works with customers and suppliers of technology products and services, and with consortia and other standards organisations to capture, clarify, and integrate current and emerging requirements, establish standards and policies, and share best practices. The Cover Story in this edition looks at some of the issues in this domain.