The automation industry appears to be evolving at a faster rate right now than at any time in its history. Commercial technologies continue to infiltrate the industrial automation space, especially wireless and mobility solutions. Change is still driven by return on investment (ROI), for which – in many cases – the time period continues to shrink for project justifications. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), for example, offers tremendous potential to transform and improve business processes, but prospective end users need help to quantify and justify the associated investment, and – in some cases – the associated risk.
One of the biggest end user challenges remains unscheduled downtime. IIoT-enabled solutions, such as remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, can help minimize, if not totally eliminate this, which would deliver a rapid ROI.
Digital transformation, enabled in part by the increasing convergence of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), is key for all organizations today, including both end users and OEMs. However, this transformation must embrace legacy assets, as plants will not “rip and replace” old, but otherwise well-functioning, equipment without financial cause. We’re seeing an explosion in the number and variety of analytics applications and suppliers. Historians, MES, and other non-control applications continue to move “to the Cloud,” which enables significant reductions in IT infrastructure and support costs, but also raises the perceived risk of data security, which must be closely scrutinized.
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Keywords: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IIoT, Edge, Digital Twin, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Disruptive Technologies, SaaS, Virtualization, Big Data, Convergence, BYOD, Robotics, Cybersecurity, ARC Advisory Group.