What will automation, controls, and instrumentation look like in 2020?

CFE Media 5th anniversary: Representatives from the three 2015 System Integrators of the Year firms offer advice, looking 5 years ahead, in honor of CFE Media’s 5-year anniversary. These system integration experts share visions of where automation, controls, and instrumentation will be in 2020 and how to increase competitiveness along the way.

By Mark T. Hoske June 16, 2015

In human vision, 20/20 is considered perfect; in the year 2020, will your approach to automation, controls, and instrumentation be near perfect? In honor of CFE Media’s 5th anniversary, representatives from the System Integrator of the Year winning firms for 2015—Maverick Technologies, Polytron, and Malisko Engineering—offer predictions for 2020 and advice to help readers gain competitiveness along the way. 

Automation value is more connected, collaborative, and secure: Maverick Technologies

Paul Galeski, CEO, Maverick Technologies, "Would like to consider five practical areas we deal with every day when working with our clients, large and small, across all the industries we cover. The ways we approach these areas will be different by the time we reach 2020, although changes have already started." His suggestions follow, covering the value of automation, networking, new people, collaboration, and cyber security. 

Digital era of manufacturing: Polytron

Brent Stromwall, PE, PMP, and vice president of Polytron Inc. said that by 2020, manufacturing enters a true digital era. On the way, "It is imperative that manufacturers provide more precise and advanced access to technical and reference materials so that operators and technicians are better prepared to operate and maintain both existing and new technology," Stromwall said. "Without an ‘at-your-fingertips’ availability of maintenance and technical knowledge, the younger workforce will be unsuccessful—incapable—of operating and maintaining the systems on today’s plant floor."

Eight technology predictions cover sustainability, connectivity, network security, network upgrades, more intuitive human-machine interfaces (HMIs), safety, predictive analytics, and upgrades. 

Connectivity, modularity, and predictive support: Malisko Engineering

Stephen J. Malyzsko, president and CEO of Malisko Engineering, focused on six areas to offer advice, covering connectivity, modular manufacturing, system support, built-in security, technology shift, and collaboration. See comments and recommendations.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

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

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

– See the 2015 System Integrator of the Year article.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.