Trends in Automation
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The present chapter addresses automation as a major means for gaining and sustaining productivity advantages. Typical market environment factors for plant and mill operators are identified, and the analysis of current technology trends allows us to derive drivers for the automation industry.
A section on current trends takes a closer look at various aspects of integration and optimization. Integrating process and automation, safety equipment, but also information and engineering processes is analyzed for its benefit for owners during the lifecycle of an installation. Optimizing the operation through advanced control and plant asset monitoring to improve the plant performance is then presented as another trend that is currently being observed. The section covers system integration technologies such as IEC61850, wireless communication, fieldbuses, or plant data management. Apart from runtime system interoperability, the section also covers challenges in engineering integrated systems.
The section on the outlook into future trends addresses the issue of managing increased complexity in automation systems, takes a closer look at future control schemes, and takes an overall view on automation lifecycle planning.
Any work on prediction of the future is based on an extrapolation of current trends, and estimations of their future development. In this chapter we will therefore have a look at the trends that drive the automation industry and identify those developments that are in line with these drivers.
Like in all other areas of the industry, the future of automation is driven by market requirements on one hand and technology capabilities on the other hand. Both have undergone significant changes in recent years, and continue to do so.
In the business environment, globalization has led to increased worldwide competition. It is not only Western companies that use offshore production to lower their cost; it is more and more also companies from upcoming regions such as China and India that go global and increase competition. The constant strive for increased productivity is inherent to all successful players in the market.
In this environment, automation technology benefits from the rapid developments in the information technology (IT) industry. Whereas some 15 years ago automation technology was mostly proprietary, today it builds on technology that is being applied in other fields. Boundaries that have clearly been defined due to the incompatibility of technologies are now fully transparent and allow the integration of various requirements throughout the value chain. Field-level data is distributed throughout the various networks that control a plant, both physically and economically, and can be used for analysis and optimization.
To achieve the desired return, companies need to exploit all possibilities to further improve their production or services. This affects all automation levels from field to enterprise optimization, all lifecycle stages from plant erection to dismantling, and all value chain steps from procurement to service.
In all steps, on all levels, automation may play a prominent role to optimize processes.
KeywordsAutomation System Model Predictive Control Information Integration International Electrotechnical Commission Distribute Control System
American National Standards Institute
computer aided engineering exchange
component object model
distributed control system
disturbance control standard
engineering, procurement, and contsruction
global system for mobile communication
highway addressable remote transducer
International Electrotechnical Commission
mean time between failure
mean time to repair
overall equipment effectiveness
proportional, integral, and derivative
programmable logic controller
safety integrity level
short message service
extensible mark-up language
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