Integration, automation, and the cloud

Successful system integrators must be as business savvy as they are tech savvy and many of these issues must be sorted out and planned carefully before the first network is mapped.

By Jack Smith April 20, 2015

In manufacturing, you can’t please everyone—or can you? Trying to meet the often conflicting expectations of every automation project stakeholder can be a formidable challenge. Successful system integrators must be as business savvy as they are tech savvy. Resources, equipment access, project timelines, planned downtime, and personnel training are a few of the issues that must be sorted out before the first network is mapped.

The author of this issue’s cover story explains some of the business and technical issues associated with system integration projects and how to deal with them. He emphasizes the importance of communication and planning from project inception through completion. Flexibility and coordination must be maintained throughout the project. In addition to insight into system integration issues, the article describes challenges associated with several project types and how to overcome them.

The other story in this issue examines cloud services. In an industrial automation context, "the ‘cloud’ is the delivery of IT capability using remote infrastructure accessed via the Internet; ‘cloud services’ provide access to IT services similar to those delivered from equipment owned by the user’s organization. Companies that specialize in delivering industrial Internet services through the cloud typically provide solutions that organizations use to build their industrial Internet programs, the most common of which include managed security, cloud data storage, analytics, applications, and information delivery (integration)." The author also explains how security is managed, the types of services available, and the business and technical benefits of partnering with a cloud service provider.

Manufacturers should approach automation projects for the right technical—and business—reasons.

This article appears in the Applied Automation supplement for Control Engineering and Plant Engineering

– See other articles from the supplement below.

The Global System Integrator Database has tools to help find an integrator.