Automation Fair 2023: Four advances in future automation technologies for industries
Innovations in industrial technology and future impacts on people, processes and productivity were among topics covered by Nov. 9 keynote presenter, Cyril Perducat, Rockwell Automation senior vice president and chief technology officer, at Automation Fair 2023 by Rockwell Automation.
- Understand automation capabilities now versus the future and how demands are changing industrial automation innovations.
- Explore how future automation systems to help share best practices.
- Learn how Rockwell Automation offers training and new technologies with its partners at Automation Fair in Boston, Nov. 6-9, 2023.
Rockwell Automation Fair: Future automation insights
- Rockwell Automation chief technology officer discusses automation capabilities now versus the future and how demands are changing industrial automation innovation. Future automation systems can help with sharing of best practices.
- Rockwell Automation and its partners shared technology observations Automation Fair in Boston, Nov. 6-9, 2023.
Expanding human possibility is how we should look at innovative technology applications for industrial use, explained Cyril Perducat, Rockwell Automation senior vice president and chief technology officer in the Nov. 9 keynote presentation at Automation Fair, by Rockwell Automation. Every technology consideration needs to start with people, he suggested. When talking about artificial intelligence (AI) or robots or other automation, Perducat said, it’s not about removing people, but using technologies to help people do their jobs. It’s not just about technologies, but creating the right experiences with technologies. There’s no way to invent the future without involving people and making technology usable.
“You always want to start with people,” Perducat said. “It’s about expanding human possibility and never about removing people from the equation.”
Now versus the future: Four changes in industrial automation innovation
Changing demands, such as evolving a medicine to help a specific human, or other product designs intended for a specific set of functions, are changing how innovative automation is applied, Perducat said. The world is changing to meet supply chain demands, resource and sustainability needs, resiliency requirements, as well as people and workforce considerations. Perducat added more details on each.
1. Supply chain volatility. For the past few years has increased the need to deliver the right product at the right time for the right person for the correct application. Customers want speed and agility to quickly change setup. Now, there are flexible machines enable fast changeovers moving to reconfigurable manufacturing systems for simplified updates.
Digital twins for machine and line design are moving to digital product lifecycle integration enabling constant evolution. Digital elements will be renewed and optimized with an understanding of relationships of connected data. It’s all part of a larger evolution where machine, robots and people are coexisting together to deliver the best solutions.
2. Resources and sustainability for industry. There are materials considerations and next we integrate the product lifecycle design. Now we have renewable energy sources moving to full integration of renewable energy, carbon capture and viable energy models. Now we have machine learning and analytics, moving to modern AI for closed-loop optimization. Need people in the loop to analyze and oversee.
“If you have a manual step in the process, you lose visibility,” Perducat said. “Integrating material movement is not just about removing that task from people, but it’s about improving the overall transparency and visibility.
AI gives a person opportunity to focus on most difficult business cases. Using signals from drives to provide information not previously possible creating multi-dimensional closed-loop scenario. AI becomes an integral part of automation, of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), data analysis to optimize production with consideration of resources.
3. Industrial resiliency. Supply chain optimization moving to adaptive supply chains and integrated ecosystems. Users can identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. They also are moving to a zero-trust architecture with threat detection. Cyber risks must ensure increased interconnections with lower risk of cyber intrusions. Simplicity and experience to have robots, people and systems operating together.
4. Automation interaction with and support for people. There are predictive maintenance systems moving to a natural language interrogation of systems. Users are enabled by having a co-pilot in design tools moving to AI-enabled code sharing and verification. Companies have automated mobile robots (AMR) and intelligent conveyance moving to robots to complete all material movements. Lose visibility when have manual steps in the process to find materials, products and bottlenecks.
Future of automation systems to help share best practices
Automation systems will help with sharing best practices, Perducat said. This is the beginning of integrating and simplify communications using generative AI. Better understand relationships between data to understand how to make decisions in an optimized way. Expand robots for visual safety inspections, as moving sensors to capture more information.
“How do we really help people with the right technology and experience so they can do extraordinary things?” Perducat said.
If done successfully, he said, it will help make manufacturing more attractive to a more diverse workforce.
AI changing the way we work
In the follow-up to Perducat’s presentation, Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic, discussed more about AI and how it will and is changing the way people work, interact, behave and change everything we know about ourselves and our own potential as machines are showing greater capability and can do anything people almost as well cognitively.
“There is a moment of exponential growth where things take off and become crazy. I think we’re at that point,” Thompson said.
Just as the internet changed how people interact and communicate with the world, how people interact and exist in this world is critical. Thompson wondered how much time will spend in the virtual reality (VR) world slowly being constructed.
“What makes me worry the most is it depends on how much time one versus the other. How good is the virtual world, but how good is the actual world?” he said.
Technology advances such as the internet and AI do create more work, but they also make people more productive and create people more capable of adapting to the new world they’re inhabiting.
“Each generation gets smarter and technology makes them smarter and technology makes them more capable,” Thompson said.
In the end, Thompson believes AI is best served when it augments humans rather than replaces them because there capabilities AI brings can make people better. He described an ideal world where there are spheres of humanness and AI-ness where each brings out the best in one another.
Sounds better than being stuck in the VR sphere all the time.
Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, email@example.com; additional information provided by Chris Vavra, web content manager, CFE Media and Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEYWORDS: Automation Fair, Rockwell Automation, future of automation
Automation innovation meets changing demands of industry.