Real World Engineering

This is a blog from the trenches—written by engineers at Maverick Technologies who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry. This isn’t what they teach you in engineering school. These are lessons learned from years on the job, encountering the obstacles and issues that are part of the real world of control and process engineering.

Real World Engineering

PCs in the workplace: Will they survive?

Will the traditional computer hardware in your control room go the way of the floppy disk?

July 08, 2013


I have noticed a lot of chatter lately on various forums and in articles about how tablets and smartphones are starting to become significant players in today’s workplace. The word is that the new devices are slowly replacing the PC on more common tasks such as email and even more complex tasks such as process control. This brings up an interesting question, how will the steady popularity and functionality of tablets and smartphones affect the presence of the PC in the workplace? Will the PC survive or will it gradually yield more tasks away to the newer devices? Or will it revamp and reverse the downward trend and sliding market share?

The PC has been a common fixture in the workplace since the early 1980s when IBM introduced its Personal Computer. Much advancement has been made to the PC along the way such as processor speed, storage space advancements, network types and speeds, and peripheral devices such as scanners, CD drives, external hard drives, etc. Through the years, various storage media have come and gone as file sizes grew. Similar to PC advancements, the cellular phone has enjoyed a similar rise in success, especially of late. With the introduction of smartphones and touchscreens, cell phone functionality has morphed basically into a small computer that fits into the palm of your hand. These devices have entered into arenas that were solely dominated by the PC for many years such as email, document and spreadsheet creation, web surfing, scanning, etc. Now, with the addition of tablets, the cousin of the smartphone, one has to wonder what role these devices will play in the future workplace and what role the PC will play.

Are we on the cusp of the next great thing with tablets and smart phones? Or will they co-exist with traditional keyboards and mice, giving us the best of both worlds? Only time will tell.

This post was written by Art Howell. Art is a senior engineer at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading system integrator providing industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services in the manufacturing and process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, and business process optimization. The company provides a full range of automation and controls services – ranging from batch control process consulting to outage planning services and  plant safety audits. Additionally MAVERICK offers industrial and technical staffing services, placing on-site automation, instrumentation and controls engineers.



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