What is going on in the area of automation?

When I helped start an automation magazine some 12 years ago, the talk was about moving the discussion from control to automation. Engineers were busy automating processes, machines, systems, lines.

A few years ago the conversation seemed to start moving again toward information and networking.

This thought blended well with the media coverage of the newly coined phrase “Internet of Things” which GE and others modified to “Industrial Internet of Things” for our particular purposes.

Recently I’ve seen two articles by respected end customer engineers about how SCADA (perhaps without the SC) needs to supercede automation. Then I saw another article from another respected source saying the problem isn’t technology. The problem is information and people.

[Note: SCADA=supervisory control and data acquisition; without the SC, maybe we only need the data acquisition]

I am seeing less talk about advances in automation and control technology. The conversation now centers on connections:

  • Connecting machines to other machines
  • Connecting machine data to manufacturing information systems
  • Connecting machine data to enterprise information systems
  • Connecting process information to people using all available tools from desktop to mobile phone
  • Connecting companies and suppliers
  • Connecting people

The name of this blog and my company was not chosen at random. The conversation for the next several years will be how companies derive the greatest benefits and effectiveness from all these connections.


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