NMW 2006: Optimizing automation aids global competitiveness, NI exec tells NMW attendees


Rosemont, IL —Much of the improvement in U.S. manufacturing efficiency recently is attributable to automation, National Instruments ' Mike Santori told National Manufacturing Week attendees Tuesday. Delivering the event’s industrial automation keynote address, Santori, NI’s business and technology fellow, discussed how critical technologies and architectures are improving production and helping companies compete more successfully in a global economy. He made his remarks at a crowded Stephens Convention Center ballroom, which was nearly full for the late-afternoon address.

Companies need to adapt and be flexible, challenged Santori, noting that optimizing automation is always relevant to how you compete in a global economy. Companies must move from high-volume to high-value production, he said. “What supports the shift to high-value production?” he asked. “It can be any of a number of factors. Some companies develop new niches, some focus on core competencies; others optimize how they produce a product.”

Santori was decidedly upbeat about U.S. manufacturing, saying he has seen “a dramatic increase in production here in the last 20 years.” U.S. manufacturing is growing and a number of developments are playing a role in its optimization, he observed. He cited the rise of PCs and the increase in their capabilities, and the increase in communication speed and connectivity, including use of the Internet, among the most important. “How did we live without connectivity?” he mused.

Turning to automation, Santori focused on specific technologies and developments that manufacturers can harness to optimize their systems to achieve the best performance possible and be competitive today. “What do you want to optimize,” he asked, “yield, flexibility, uptime, safety, quality, maintenance, traceability?”

In Santori’s estimation, six technologies and developments emerge as the innovative trends that have had the greatest impact on improving automation efficiency:

  • Industry-standard technologies;

  • High-speed data acquisition;

  • Advanced computational capabilities;

  • Machine vision;

  • Wireless connectivity; and

  • Embedded technologies.

He charged manufacturers to look at their facilities critically, pinpoint opportunities, and optimize specific areas, whether they be in managing data or modifying existing machinery or production lines.

National Manufacturing Week saw thousands of engineers and executives from across the country gather to participate in technical conferences and exhibits in the areas of design, facilities, automation, and information. The event returns to the Stephens Convention Center next year, March 12-15, 2007.

Visit controleng.com/news for more coverage of NMW 2006.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk


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