Bill’s Top 10 Automation & Control Trends for 2018 - A Year of Technology Driven Change

January 302018
Bill’s Top 10 Automation & Control Trends for 2018 -  A Year of Technology Driven Change

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

The digitalization of manufacturing is starting to come into focus in 2018. In last year’s Top 10 Automation & Control Trends for 2017: Convergence, Divergence or Chaos?,  I suggested there was lack of clarity about the situation in the automation industry. The new year, however, looks to bring structural and architectural changes that will be disruptive to organizations and suppliers that resist change. 

A caveat as we begin: I’ve been involved in this industry for years, as both a designer and applier of automation and controls in the field, and I still don’t know what the future will hold. Still, after another busy year talking to a wide range of users, suppliers and industry consultants, and attending over 20 industry conferences and related events, I have another year’s worth of informed insights to share on the latest trends that will shape automation in 2018.  As always, I invite everyone to share their own thoughts, criticisms, and perspectives on this exciting time for automation with me at [email protected]

 

The Next Frontier for Manufacturing Automation

The digital revolution of business has been growing its industrial roots for generations. Multiple business functions have been digitized and refined over the years including:

  • Accounting
  • Supply chain
  • Human resources
  • Procurement
  • Customer services
  • Business intelligence
  • Distribution management

In contrast, however, industrial and process automation industries have not transformed at the same rate. These industries must be digitized in order for manufacturers to compete in the digital world.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

 

Manufacturing Competitiveness at Stake

History has proven that organizations who resist the adoption of appropriate disruptive technology are likely to pull a Blockbuster, in that they become stagnant and see themselves leapfrogged by more advanced competitors.  Conversely, companies that leverage disruptive innovations position themselves to become industry leaders and bastions of productivity.  There are numerous historical examples that illustrate this principle.  Take the early automotive industry, for example. Henry Ford dominated the early years of that industry because of the world’s first moving assembly line, which reduced Model T production to 93 minutes.  Yet, decades later, the 1990’s saw United States automakers innovating less in manufacturing and eventually losing dramatic market share to Japanese automotive manufacturers, who were leveraging newer management methods, advanced manufacturing methods and aggressive use of automation, and robotics. United States automakers, during that time, had access to the same technologies and methods, but they were not moved to take advantage of them until compelled by economic factors. This is not a situation that any manufacturer would wish to repeat, so here are ten trends in 2018 that manufacturers need to keep on top of to maintain their competitive edge over the next year.

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1. The Continuing Evolution of Roles in Manufacturing Automation

We’ve already seen and covered several conversations about the convergence of IT and OT and how they will change organizational structures. This was a theme last year, and these conversations will likely continue to be all over the map for some time to come.  That said, I believe that the IT group’s role will ultimately be supporting industrial automation, helping to deliver scalable computing, data transport, and storage for process control & automation.   This would enable industrial automation people to focus on a broader range of real-time manufacturing and production improvements.

Why this shift? I spoke with a corporate automation manager at a large pharmaceutical user and he explained it like this, “Our people need to be focusing on the manufacturing process, continually improving automation for more efficiency and profits; rather than configuring ethernet switches, updating software and workstations and other functions which can be accomplished more efficiently by other people.”

This future could see automation and IT people collaborating to leverage their unique skill sets and know-how to improve production.   For an example, the pharmaceutical company I interviewed had automation people working with IT people to apply off-the-shelf data modeling tools to better understand processes to make improvements.   This was accomplished at a fraction of the cost of traditional automation system vendor offerings and methods.  I spoke with another company who had 30 plants and multiple brands of historians. That company is consolidating, using an OPC server at each site and aggregating data which is then analyzed using Amazon WEB Services (AWS) applications, with the goal of greater efficiency.

Manufacturing and production automation professionals will continue to have distinct organizational responsibilities for productivity and profitability.

 

The Importance of System Integrators

The role of the industrial automation system integrator will encompass the bridging of edge control and analytics with enterprise and cloud applications.  These integrators will be crucial as they can accelerate the process for companies to become digital manufacturers. Integrators will continue to create solutions by generating ideas, defining business challenges, assessing risk, and identifying gaps in business processes or technology capabilities. 

 

2. Business Systems Integrate Industrial Automation Middleware to Achieve Real Time Synchronization

The progressively tighter integration of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) continues to grow. Business systems can now process real-time transaction to be more responsive in all functions, including Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) functions. This is being driven by lean manufacturing efforts, which work to optimize entire process including supply chain, production, delivery, genealogy, and customer service.  

Enterprise systems (ERP, etc.) have become real-time transaction processing and are driving down to the edge, which is resulting in the systemic elimination of traditional HMI and other middleware. SAP, in particular, is leading the way with the SAP HANA architecture, now a part of the SAP Leonardo offering.

This effort is satisfying requirements for real-time synchronized manufacturing operations.  Innovative industrial automation vendors are already providing automation controllers designed to leverage the business network, and directly communicate with enterprise business systems. This communication uses Web services and other IoT transport mechanisms to facilitate the integration and synchronization’s entry into the business information loop.  There are notable industry standards being leveraged to accomplish this including:

  • OPC UA
  • B2MML
  • PLCopen
  • IT database interfaces.  

The synchronization of the enterprise business information functions and data flows with industrial processes in real time, is increasingly recognized as the way to achieve greater production efficiency, productivity, responsiveness, and competitiveness.  Two of the most transformative industrial automation innovations, namely the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and the Distributed Control System (DCS), were driven by the need for increased productivity and were made possible by advances in technology available at the time.  2018 sees that the stage has been set for the next major industrial automation improvements to achieve productivity improvement goals. This is being enabled by lower cost and higher performance technology, developed for applications including smart phones, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and edge sensors (i.e. automotive, highways, bridges; personal devices).

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3. Open Ecosystems Continue to Supplant Closed Ones

As we discussed in last year’s article, open ecosystems are enabling multivendor interoperability at all levels of the system architecture, while simplifying integration, expanding the number of options available for applications, and making applications portable without engineering labor across vendor platforms.  In contrast, there are still far too many incumbent industrial automation suppliers today with highly-gated automation partner programs.  Selected based on protective commercial criteria, these third-party partners are technically and legally enabled to work with the vendor’s unique tightly bound closed architectures. Suffice it to say, there are significantly fewer obstacles in open ecosystems.

Yet it is truly interesting to hear incumbent automation vendors explain why this is not desirable.  Many use the same arguments I heard many years ago, from mainframe vendors trying to fend off the PC revolution.  No industry has ever retreated from open systems and this one will likely be no different.

 

Resulting in Portable Applications

In particular, the open ecosystem solves one of the most challenging issues facing the automation industry. The lack of multivendor portability of applications.  Many of the drivers of these open automation architecture initiatives recognized that without open ecosystems, and the ability to portable applications between vendor platforms, innovation was stifled.   This was because applications, created for a specific vendor’s controller, could not be run on another vendor’s controller without spending many unproductive engineering, configuration, and documentation hours rewriting them.  One of the big names advocating OPC UA, Exxon Mobil’s Don Bartusiak uses this analogy:

"Think of having to rewrite all your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations every time bought a computer from a different vendor. In today’s connected industry, non-portable applications represent an inexcusable waste of time and resources."

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Enabled by an Open Source Code

A major characteristic of any open ecosystem is open-source code.  Here are some examples of some of the most relevant open-sourced projects and products:

 

OPC UA

OPC UA (Unified Architecture) is an open source platform, independent service-oriented architecture. OPC UA integrates all the functionality of the OPC Classic specifications, and a growing number of other open source data models, such as MTConnect and FDT, into one extensible framework.

 

EdgeX Foundry

EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral, open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation, working to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing.  At the heart of the project is an interoperability framework, hosted within a full hardware- and OS-agnostic reference software platform. This enables an ecosystem of plug-and-play components designed to unify the marketplace and accelerate the deployment of IoT solutions.

EdgeX Foundry interoperability architecture supports multiple standards.

 

NodeRed

The NodeRed open source software, Node-RED, has been particularly intriguing to me. A programming environment for visually creating and executing applications, this technology is being used by a number of vendors that have embedded run-times on real-time platforms. These vendors include names such as including Opto 22, Hilscher, and NEXCOM, so it is worth watching developments to see where NodeRed goes.  

 

Facilitating the Rapid Rise of Edge Computing

The rapid rise of open architecture edge devices, based on Internet of Things concepts and technologies, is enabling new intelligent nodes, which operate at the network edge to improve manufacturing performance and efficiency.  

Practical applications are being deployed today using brick computers, processors embedded in end devices such as drives, embedded in actuators/sensors, and application processors embedded in ethernet routers.

Edge computing encompasses real-time control, rules engines, edge analytics, edge historian, and other functions to provide high reliability and responsiveness in these highly distributed IoT architectures.  As with the rest of the open ecosystem efforts, this is another trend that is not likely to go away.

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4. Increasingly Defined Open Architecture Initiatives

We’ve extensively covered many of the open initiatives that are defining today’s multivendor interoperability systems architectures and are setting the pattern for all industrial automation. Here are some of the notable efforts:

 

Industry 4.0 Worldwide

Industry 4.0 initiatives and development continue to grow, driving change to achieve the goal of holistic and adaptive automation system architectures. 2017 saw that Industry 4.0 is influencing the thinking which advocates integration of the manufacturing plant with other business functions such as inbound logistics, customer service, and outbound logistics.   A driving force behind the development of Industry 4.0 is the realization that pursuing low labor rates is no longer a winning strategy. Remaining competitive and flexible can only be accomplished by leveraging the advanced technologies, centering on automation to enable a successful transition.  Germany’s Industry 4.0   initiative has ignited worldwide cooperative efforts in China, Japan and India.

Developing economies surprisingly have a key advantage in this area. Since they are typically not tied down with legacy automation system and machine investments, they are able to dive right in to these new initiatives, enabling them to leap ahead of the rest of the world. This is a familiar pattern characterized by Japan's post-World War II record period of economic growth in significant market share gains in a number of areas including automotive, television, and electronics

Some of the leading open architecture initiatives include:

 

Made in China 2025

This past year, China announced increased financial support for major projects of its “Made in China 2025” initiative with the total funding to exceed 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).   In addition, local authorities will also increase financial support for “Made in China 2025” projects with over 10 billion yuan expected to be invested by local governments nationwide.   The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will also cooperate with China Development Bank to provide financial services including loans, bonds, leasing to support major projects, with an estimated 300 billion yuan of financing in place in the 2016-2020 period. 

 

Make in India

The government is set to launch round two of its flagship Make in India program with the focus this time on futuristic segments such as robotics, genomics. chemical feedstock and electrical storage.   The government's industry department is in the process of formulating a five-year roadmap for each of the priority sectors to be covered under Make in India 2.0, a senior government official reprted the Economic Times.   

 

Industry 4.0 for Process

This effort, the application of Industry 4.0 concepts to improve process automation, is being driven by NAMUR and VDI/VDE in collaboration with several prominent leaders in the industry, including: ABB, BASF, Bayer Technology Services, Bilfinger Maintenance, Endress+Hauser, Evonik, Festo, Krohne, Lanxess, Siemens, and Fraunhofer ICT. The concepts are expressed in  NAMUR’s Process Sensor 4.0 Roadmap, which describes smart-networked sensors as a foundational part of the Industry 4.0 process architecture.  These sensors will communicate with controls, and automation systems and simultaneously and directly with business systems.

 

The Open Group, the Open Process Automation Forum

The Open Group’s Open Process Automation Forum, formally launched November, 2016, is focused on developing a multivendor standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture.   The Open Group has a track record of success in this area with the FACE standard. This standard has led to the deployment of higher function software designed to lower lifecycle cost. The defense avionics industry is one prime example of one who has transitioned from a proprietary solutions to fully open systems architecture.

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5. The Survival of Incumbent Automation Suppliers is At Risk

Established automation suppliers are in a dangerous place right now. If they do not change their system architecture and business models, to reflect and leverage the new technologies, including open standard systems that support multivendor interoperability, customers will simply pass them by.   This may seem like a bold statement presently, but there is a long list of computer companies that went by the wayside, or at the very least severely struggled, as open-standardized PC (Personal Computer) hardware and software changed the industry. These companies include: Digital Equipment Corporation, Burroughs, Interdata, Data General, Wang, Control Data Corporation, and Modcomp Computer Systems. This led to the further advent of lower cost and easy to use software, that didn’t require programming and increased the number of applications possible (think spreadsheets). This expanded the industry dramatically, while badly hurting incumbent suppliers.

In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy. J. Paul Getty

In today’s industrial automation, these suppliers desperately need to move beyond closed and highly gated automation partner programs.  Yet, for these same suppliers, moving to an open multivendor interoperable architecture may be difficult, because they have architectures that tightly bind software applications with distributed code and firmware in their field controllers and end devices. Yet, that is exactly why it must happen. It is becoming a continuing complaint from users, when they add a system-level software feature and are informed they must do an expensive upgrade of field hardware. In some cases, it may even drive them to explore other, more flexible options.

Understandably, adapting to disruption is not easy for established incumbents.  Disruptive innovations, that drive industry changes, tend to be seen as attacks on the incumbent’s sales volume and profits, due to significantly better cost performance for the technologies used to displace them.  Couple this with changing business models for service and distribution and it is easy to see why it might be difficult for the existing organization to accept. That will not stop the future from happening.

Incumbent automation vendors would do well to rethink how they can contribute value to customers in this new environment.  If incumbent automation vendors don’t participate in and implement fully open systems, they may see their place rapidly usurped by the computer and IoT industry.

 

6. Mandatory Cybersecurity Laws on the Horizon?

There are already standards for industrial cybersecurity and in most industries, these are voluntary. That said, there is a worldwide trend for government regulation. We’ve already seen this in regulations for industrial safety systems.  Unfortunately, instead of one standardized effort, there are multiple initiatives in the world with different goals and ultimately different standards.

One example is the efforts Underwriters Labs have taken with the development of the UL Cybersecurity Assurance Program (CAP). This effort included input from major stakeholders representing the U.S. Federal government, academia and industry with a goal to elevate the security measures deployed in the critical infrastructure supply chain.  The standards were developed to provide cybersecurity criteria for testing to validate the security claims of vendors.  The UL CAP security efforts are recognized within the U.S. White House Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) as a way to test and certify network-connectable devices within the IoT supply chain.   This would parallel fire safety laws, product certifications, and facility site certification.  Given that UL in North America is a prime certification group for electrical, industrial control panel builders, fire safety, and physical security, it is really not surprising that they would be involved in cybersecurity.

Data privacy and ownership has also become a discussion.  For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU. When the GDPR takes effect, it will replace the data protection directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC) of 1995. The regulation was adopted on 27 April 2016. It becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018 after a two-year transition period and, unlike a directive, it does not require national governments to pass any enabling legislation, and is thus directly binding and applicable.

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7. The Cost for Smart Sensors is Dropping

“Plug and play” smart sensors and control devices, which use embedded intelligence, have driven multiple successful IIoT efforts (HART being a recent open architecture example) by providing increasing amounts of contextual data. Further, the cost of implementing smart sensors has dropped dramatically, seeing increasing numbers of vendors enter the field and a great deal of sensor innovation including:

 

Communication

There are various communications options being used including IO-Link, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, 802.15.4 mesh networks and Bluetooth.  In a number of applications, today’s sensors are communicating directly with business systems. Interestingly, I have been seeing Bluetooth sensors, typically found in commercial applications, being used in industrial applications, as well.  Late in 2016, for example, Endress+Hauser introduced the FMR10 and FMR20 free space radar level transmitters to measure liquid levels in storage tanks, open basins, open channels, weirs and canal systems. The FMR10 has a 4-20mA output and comes standard with Bluetooth for configuration. The SmartBlue App that runs on any Bluetooth enabled smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android) is designed to provide secure communications with the transmitter in order to configure or view envelope curves. The encrypted and password-protected Bluetooth wireless connection allows operators to monitor the sensor’s output and perform configurations in hazardous or unsafe locations without exposing personnel to dangerous conditions.

MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical  Sytem)

MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical  Sytem)  integrated circuits are being used to create rugged sensors for temperature, pressure, vibration, acceleration, and other measurements.   MEMS technology has been available for years but was previously very expensive until their use in cell phones, tablets, and other consumer devices.  The subsequent demand increased the production volume, lowering cost and spurring use in industrial environments.  Some recent products taking advantage of this technology include:

 

Bosch Advanced Sensing IoT Toolkit

Bosch created an IoT Toolkit, which is a universal programmable sensor device with integrated processing and communications. The Toolkit includes accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, community sensor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, acoustic sensor, and digital light sensor on a single chip.  The unit also features a 32-bit microcontroller ARM Cortex M3, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Debug & extension port, Micro SD, Push buttons, Status LEDs, and a Li-Ion rechargeable battery.  The unit, including battery, is housed in a form factor of 60 x 40 x 22 mm³.  Communication options provide connection with other devices including PC or a mobile device via USB, Bluetooth or WLAN, an operating system is already on the XDK based on the open source operating system FreeRTOS enabling real time IoT applications.

 

Panduit Vibration Monitors

Panduit SynapSense 900 MHz Sensor for vibration incorporates a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer that measures on the x, y and z axis to determine velocity and frequency of the measured vibration. The sensor is adjustable to capture data based on an assessment interval, and also reports the duty cycle of the measured vibration wirelessly to a gateway for transmission to an online or premises based configuration management / database system.

Panduit SynapSense 900 MHz Sensor for vibration incorporates a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer.

 

Wireless Sensor Networking

Much like the cost reduction in MEMS technology, the explosive growth of commercial wireless IoT devices should drive lower costs for wireless sensors, which has been limiting the number of applications deployed. Still, the installation of wireless points is in its infancy, considering that they are still dwarfed by the number of hardwired devices being installed today.  The prominent industrial wireless standards today include ISA100.11, IEC62591 (WirelessHART), IEC62601 (WIA-PA developed in China), ZigBee, and 802.11.

 

LiFi

One of 2018’s more intriguing new possibilities is Li-Fi. Li-Fi (/liː-faɪ/. Short for Light Fidelity) is a technology designed to enable wireless communication between devices using light to transmit data. Specifically, it is a visible light communications system that is capable of transmitting data at high speeds over the visible light spectrum, ultraviolet and infrared radiation. The technology is similar to Wi-Fi for the end user. The key difference is that Wi-Fi uses radio frequency to transmit data. Using light to transmit data allows Li-Fi to offer several advantages like working across higher bandwidth, working in areas susceptible to electromagnetic interference (e.g. Aircraft cabins, hospitals, etc) and offering higher transmission speeds. The technology is currently being developed by several organizations across the globe including the Fraunhofer Institute

 

8. Even More Analytics

Driven by a wide range of IoT implementations, outside of industrial automation, significant developments have brought users a new generation of cloud services and tools to create analytics. In addition, there is a growing range of open source software, including embedded edge analytics.

Previously, much of the software used to accomplish advanced process control (APC), optimization, and predictive analytics has been difficult to use and expensive, but this is changing. Driven by a wide range of Internet of Things applications, these cloud-based tools, with refined integrated design environments (IDE), provide platforms for users and industry experts to create and deploy economical thereby broadening deployed applications analytics.  These platforms are designed to lower the cost of implementation and help broaden the range of applications where analytics can be applied, very similar to how Excel spreadsheets empowered users to use computers more effectively. In addition to improving efficiency and productivity, these analytics can better inform decision-making in order to improve and refine manufacturing processes.  

 

Cloud Computing & Analytics

The use of cloud computing will grow, with increasing abilities to create high level analytics and analysis, while leveraging operational and historic information.  Analytics will be at edge devices for bounded analytic applications.  Hybrid analytics leverage both the cloud and edge with rules and models created at the enterprise/cloud, and then downloaded into edge devices.  As macro conditions change, edge devices will be updated.  Effective implementation of cloud analytics, over multiple processes and plants, is meant to provide a way to gain insights to improve operations and predictive maintenance on a larger scale.

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9. Ethernet Continues Rule Over Industrial Networks

Ethernet, both wired and wireless, has become the workhorse network of choice throughout manufacturing and production.  The protocol features prominently in data, audio, video, and industrial control networks leveraging shared infrastructure. Increasing speed requirements will continue to exist as customers continue to demand higher-speed networks, segmentation, and accelerated use of fiber optic networks.

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Will Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) Bring Unification?

There is a great deal of discussion and (in some quarters) excitement about the prospect of Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). Many feel that TSN has the potential to be a single unifying deterministic network shared by all applications throughout the computer industry.  The Time-Sensitive Networking Task Group is part of the IEEE 802.1 Working Group, with the charter to provide deterministic services through IEEE 802 networks [e.g., guaranteed packet transport with bounded low latency, low packet delay variation (jitter), and low packet loss (something to ponder for industrial automation).]  Based on interviews and discussions I’ve had with people involved in the IEEE committees they report  the entire standard will be completed in a few years. 

A unifying open network is not a new idea; this was the focus of the MAP (Manufacturing Automation Protocol) standard launched in 1982 and supported by 21 vendors by 1985.   MAP was not successful for a number of reasons: it was complex, the technology needed to support it was leading edge (some would say bleeding edge) and it was rather unreliable.  Yet, the efforts of the past have helped shape the TSN effort, as the goals being promoted for TSN are similar for integration of real time industrial control, IT, OT, video, and data communications in general.

Since TSN is a totally-managed shared network architecture all network traffic, including all industrial protocols in the plant, would need to conform and be compliant with the TSN set of standards in order to achieve deterministic and reliable communications.

There is hope that TSN will be adopted by the automotive industry, in order to drive down cost based on high volume consumption. However, TSN is not the only network standard competing for vehicle applications and there is no clear winner at this point in time.  At a fundamental level, networks in automobiles are significantly different than general computing networks in industrial automation since they are tightly-bounded, highly-defined applications with common use cases among thousands of cars and models making fixed network configuration and parameters inherent.  Business and Industrial automation applications, on the other hand, are unbounded with wide variations by differing industries and plants requiring flexible configuration and parameterization.  

The obstacle for TSN is that the concept of a single network, which integrates real time industrial control, IT, OT, video, and other data communications, is a complex scheme.  Complexity typically negatively impacts quality, reliability, and availability, and this could prove to be a deadly barrier to the implementation of Time Sensitive Networking.

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10. The Invasion of the Robots

As many are well aware at this point, the application of robots is dramatically increasing. In particular, collaborative robots are in demand as users learn more about them and identify further applications.  Collaborative robots are designed to work cooperatively with people and integrate vision systems, along with advanced software, to provide situational awareness.  The average prices for these robots have dropped significantly, to under $40,000, making them suitable for a much larger number of applications.  This breed of robots is following a similar pattern that ignited the personal computer revolution - providing a product with less power than larger offerings, but with added value for a broader number of users.  The rate of robot adoption is accelerating throughout the world, particularly in China, as the country is now the largest purchaser of robots in the world.    

Collaborative robots can be used to do repetitive tasks such as welding and are quickly programmed for other applications supporting flexible manufacturing.

It’s not just China, though. The IFR reports that the Asian industry’s uptake of industrial robots is soaring: in just five years its operational stock rose 70 percent to 887,400 units, (2010-2015). In 2015 alone, annual sales of robots jumped 19 percent to 160,600 units, setting a new record for the fourth consecutive year. China is the biggest market for industrial robots in the world and takes 43 percent of all sales to Asia, including Australia and New Zealand. It is followed by the Republic of Korea, with a share of 24 percent of regional sales, and Japan with 22 percent. That means 89 percent of robots sold in Asia and Australia went to these three countries in 2015.

China is expected remain a primary driver of growth in the region and expand its market lead. By 2019, almost 40 percent of the global supply will be installed in China. Continued growth in robot installations is predicted for all major Asian robot markets: Korea, Japan, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries.

Developments for domestic household robots is forecasted to be 31 million between 2016 and 2019. This should drive the price of robots lower with increased unit volume.

 

The Challenge for Automation Professionals in 2018

Coming into 2018, today’s automation professionals are challenged with both risk and opportunity as major changes come into focus.   Success will come to those that take informed action and outside-the-box thinking in this changing environment. Our goal at Automation.com is always to provide you with the information and analysis to make quality decisions so you can maximize your company’s productivity and efficiency. We will continue to rove industry events, study the technology, and talk to all the leading experts and vendors to bring you the latest happenings in the industry. If you have questions or would like to know more about a trend or technology that we discuss here, or if you simply want to share your different perspective on the industry, please feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter.

 

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