Year 2020 outlook from Malisko Engineering: Connectivity, modularity, and predictive support

Malisko Engineering, among the three 2015 System Integrators of the Year, offers advice, looking 5 years ahead, in honor of CFE Media’s 5-year anniversary. Where will automation, controls, and instrumentation be in 2020 and how should you increase competitiveness along the way?


Control Engineering, as part of CFE Media, continues to help subscribers envision and implement a more productive future starting with the technology tools available today in advanced automation, controls, and instrumentation. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, ConWhere will automation, controls, and instrumentation be in 2020 and how should you increase competitiveness along the way? Malisko Engineering, among the three 2015 System Integrators of the Year, offers advice, looking 5 years ahead, in honor of CFE Media’s 5-year anniversary. Advice for year 2020 covers six areas: connectivity, modular manufacturing, system support, built-in security, technology shift, and collaboration.

1. Universal connectivity — Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and mobility will drive the industry to a common connectivity standard; one which will align with the consumer and commercial markets. A steady departure will continue to occur over the next 5 years from the various vendor-based bus connectivity methods. Vendors will continue to develop proprietary instruments, sensors, analyzers, controllers, and human-machine interfaces (HMIs), but industry demand for "universal connectivity" will force surviving vendors into providing access to their proprietary offerings.

Mobile applications and wireless will become the norm. With the convergence of traditional desktop PCs and mobile devices (such as Microsoft Continuum, included in Microsoft Windows 10), fundamental computing will change. This convergence, tied with super-fast wireless access available everywhere, will result in the surfacing of more cloud-based applications.

Technologies such as Microsoft's HoloLens will augment HMI and programmable logic controller (PLC) programming as well as visualization on the plant floor.

2. Modular manufacturing — Vendors will continue to migrate to process cell and work cell plug-and-play offerings to manufacturing clients as the thirst continues for quicker time to market for products. Manufacturing automation systems will be designed and supplied by each vendor with the vendor's system engineers being mindful of the universal connectivity standard. Modular manufacturing puts the system integrator in a role of aggregating the data and implementing an overall supervisory control strategy.

3. System support—98% predictive; 2% corrective — Manufacturing automation systems will contain industry-standard operation monitoring modules watching the health of the equipment. Equipment vendors will supply mandated operation mathematical models together with statistical data and recommended service and re-calibration frequency.

4. Built-in system security and permissions based on industry mandates — Concurrent with universal connectivity will be a common security standard, aligned with information technology (IT) and commercial markets. Standard predicate rules will establish levels and comprehensive requirements to safeguard the integrity and robustness of manufacturing automation systems.

5. Technical resources shift for the system integrator (SI) — The SI's primary defined role will shift to that of an aggregator of modules. Instrumentation and component selection will become less of a skill set needed by the SI as those tasks will become more of the vendor's responsibility and deliverables.

Connectivity and security standards that vendors must adhere to reduce the need for SI's to keep network and security resources on their staffs. Some SI's might, however, decide to keep resources on-staff with the traditional skills of specifying instrumentation, controls, HMI, networks, data, and security to service those clients with legacy automation systems and resource restrictions.

Advanced visualization (in HMI), controller development (including PLCs), and testing tools will speed up implementation time for the lower level control and visualization tasks and will allow Integrators to spend more time delivering seamless integration solutions with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other front office systems.

Representing the 2015 System Integrator of the Year in the small system integrator category is Stephen J. Malyszko, President and CEO of Malisko Engineering. Courtesy: CFE MediaTotal secure convergence of IT and operations technology (OT) will become the norm. Integrators will need to be well-versed and certified in both areas.

6. SIs become an automation partner for clients — Manufacturers will become very reliant on control system SIs to help them build cases and justification for projects involving automation. Manufacturers will continue to downsize technical support teams while their reliance on automation technology grows.

- Stephen J. Malyzsko is president and CEO of Malisko Engineering; edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

Key concepts

  • Groundwork technologies for year 2020 are here today, and system integrators can help.
  • Networking, communications, and collaboration will be pervasive.
  • Security will be built into automation, controls, and instrumentation.

Consider this

If you don't have a vision for enabling technologies, collaborate with a partner who can help provide a roadmap.

ONLINE extra

- Learn more about Malisko Engineering in the Global System Integrator Database.

- See additional advice on the past, present, and future of control engineering below.

Malisko Engineering is a CSIA member as of 6/30/2015

Anonymous , 07/11/15 06:36 AM:

I personally agree with Stephen that the industry will depart from proprietary protocols. For transmitters and valve positioners it happened several years ago. It has taken a bit longer for Motor Operated Valves (MOV) / electric actuators, tank gauging systems, and gas chromatographs etc. but users are already now specifying standard fieldbus for these devices as well.
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