5 Trends in Manufacturing Automation
Sep 6, 2018
Thinking smarter. That’s what manufacturing automation is doing. As a result, plants are becoming more flexible and modular, reducing footprints, down time and expenditures. According to Markets and Markets Research, automation is expected to increase dramatically through 2022. See those statistics below under one of the five cool trends we see in automation:
1. Servo modules are replacing motion systems
More of the motions on a machine are being replaced by servo modules. With the power of the digital signal processor (DSP), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can now create machines that do not require a centralized controller in a large cabinet. As a result, conveyor integration or robotic cells can be housed in a much smaller cabinet or can be cabinet-free. Plants with multiple conveyor control systems can reduce their footprint with this smarter technology.
2. Preconfigured Software for Redundant Activity
As much of 80 percent of redundant conveyor and motion tasks can now be preconfigured and tested in the module software prior to it going to the OEM or end user. Synchronized motion control, such as feeding, unwinding and sealing also can be preprogrammed in the modules.
The significance of standardized technology modules is the shortening of the machine design process. It also allows the OEM can focus on the machine’s special features that are not preconfigured.
3. Remote Diagnostics Innovation
Remote diagnostics provide up-to-date status reports on all aspects of a machine’s operation. Think of the diagnostics in your car. With a push of a button, our vehicles tell us when it’s time for an oil change, how much air pressure is in each tire and when a bulb has burned out. Similar diagnostics can be viewed for the entire operation of the machines in a plant, thereby anticipating and reducing downtime.
Plants also can keep machines running efficiently even when environmental conditions and other factors (such as power input) may require a specific course of action. And now with the Internet of Things (IoT), we have systems of interrelated computing devices, digital machines, mechanical machines and other objects transferring data to each other over a network. This information has been available for quite some time. It’s learning how to use the plethora of data that will be key.
4. Single Software Solutions
According to Markets and Markets Research, the robotic software market size was valued at $843 million in 2016 and is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2022. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent.
Software is no longer just PC based. More and more, software exists at every stage of the motion system, from the firmware in the motor module to the PC ecosystem.
For example, AMK has developed middleware based on common mechanical designs (like robots). Our tools in the ecosystem are effective because of the synchronization from the single motion control block at the IEC level to the firmware in the drive. This gives us the ability make any machine quickly and in the OEMs methodology. The difference: you no longer need an editor.
5. Eliminating Training Templates
For years, training templates have been used in the automation industry to conceal the difficulty of machine programming. This is done to make integration of a new platform simpler and easier. What happens when the OEMs needs are bigger than the template?
At AMK, we believe 70% of our customer’s machines can be done with our middleware that requires no editor. For the other 30%, we rely on the fact that American engineers are the best and the brightest in the world. To that end, we focus our training on open-concept IEC61131 programming modules so that engineers can innovate outside of the confines of a template.
Manufacturers and machines are smarter than they’ve ever been and will continue down this path as software, servo modules and other machine tools become more powerful and take on more functionality.
To learn more about AMK Automation, call us at 847-565-2652 or reserve a meeting with our engineers at PACK EXPO International, Booth N-6129, Oct. 14-17 in Chicago.