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Focus on People to Maximise Plant Efficiency

Balancing people and technology to optimise plant operations.

In its relentless march toward end-to-end automation, technology has continually up-ended the boundaries between man and machine in industrial enterprises. With recent advances in artificial intelligence supported by endless computing resources in the cloud, we must now ask ourselves, “how much longer will we need people directly involved in manufacturing?”

The fact is, we will always have people involved in process manufacturing plants. So perhaps the better approach is to look for ways to create an environment where we are able to balance the best attributes of people and technology to assure optimisation of communication, safety and production. This article will explore new roles within an organisation and how technology, created to support critical human factors, will help people and machines collaborate to provide the breakthrough advances in productivity that society needs in the decades to come.

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Redefining the Boundaries of Automation

Production challenges do not wait on IT developments, and getting to the root of a problem does not always have to be rocket science.

Modern automation systems go beyond the confines of the physical machines on the factory floor. According to Deloitte Insights, smart factories can not only operate within the four walls of a factory but can also connect to a global network of similar production systems, and even to the digital supply network.

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Five Factors to Smart Instrumentation in Industry 4.0

Learn how Industry 4.0 incorporates the data and analytics from smart instruments to add tremendous value to an organization.

Instruments in today’s market are heavily data-driven and connected. Live information about the process can be accessed at the field level without having to be networked through a traditional HMI (human-machine interface). Learn how Industry 4.0 incorporates the data and analytics from smart instruments to add tremendous value to an organization. Consider these five factors to smart instrumentation in Industry 4.0:

1. Smart instruments in the Industry 4.0 infrastructure

“Smart” Instruments are instruments that, besides their primary purpose, generate additional data such as diagnostics. They are highly accessible platforms such as phones, tablets, and laptops that work over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals. Smart instruments often have advanced protocols such as Ethernet/IP or OPC-UA that allows them to be tied directly into site networks instead of through the control system. This can also be done with the use of gateways. Control systems can, therefore, predominately focus on control while maintenance, calibration and commissioning data is still accessible at higher levels such as the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or manufacturing execution system (MES).

2. Common examples of Industry 4.0 instrument data

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5 Steps to Implement Al on the Factory Floor

Companies should be looking to benefit from the potential of technologies such as artificial intelligence and edge computing for business success and competitive advantage.

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Strategies for Upgrading PLC Hardware

The programmable logic controller (PLC) first came out in the late 1960s. It’s important to know when to  update old hardware and controllers with new technology updates and to ensure replacement parts are available in the event of an emergency. Buying replacement parts on the internet isn’t a reliable best practice.
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