Key Technology Trends for 2023

March 14, 2023

2022 was a year when industrial markets, despite slower growth, declines in stock valuations, and fears of recession, did not typically suffer from demand problems but were often impacted by supply chain issues and the ability to find both skilled and unskilled workers to fill many open positions. These factors are creating demand for technologies that ARC feels will grow more mainstream in 2023 and beyond, helping industrial companies increase their revenue and profits as well as their sustainability and operational resilience.

Industrial Control-as-a-Service

Moving the traditional PLC/PAC from the machine to the industrial edge allows critical control applications to be better managed in an IT-like environment, while keeping them close to process. To support the deployment and management of whole fleets of virtual PLCs/PACs, automation suppliers will offer tools that add flexibility and scalability, allow cloud-based PLC/PAC file storage and backups, enable management of traditional and virtual PLCs/PACs in the cloud, and provide automated code deployment. This will be an important step toward providing “Industrial-Control-as-a- Service” in the future.

In 2023, look for the growth in virtual and edge control deployments, which will begin to lay the foundation for future industrial control as a service application.

Closed Digital Loops

The digital thread involves a communication framework to connect the silos and provide data flow across the manufacturing domains. This enables an integrated view of the asset’s information, documentation, and data throughout its lifecycle across the traditionally siloed functional perspectives.

In recent years, technologies have been providing companies with new tools to make the digital thread into closed loop, providing continuous improvement to all manufacturing domains. Having a closed loop digital thread provides a common denominator for connecting the raw operational and asset data converted into actionable intelligence to all design, engineering, operational and maintenance domains that enable humans, software applications, and machines to take the right actions at the right time to continuously improve operational, asset, and supply chain performance.

Enterprise Visualization Interface

With the convergence of IT, operations technology (OT), and engineering technology, more sophisticated data visualization tools must be added to display more diverse information that allow for faster interpretation and better decision-making. These tools must support “on-the-spot” data and information analysis leveraging complex analytics and provide a presentation format that delivers the highest user comprehension while allowing selections in real-time of whether the information visualized is from the process, production management, or other information sources. This has led to a new category of tools known as Enterprise Visualization Interface (EVI) solutions that can consume multiple types of information and structure it into a complete view.

A differentiator of EVI solutions is their ability to exchange data with any application and shape it into a higher-level view. These solutions employ tools to help assist IT and OT personnel in accessing the data they seek to solve problems without retraining or adding data science capabilities to industrial organizations. EVI solutions will be both on-premises and cloud enabled, unlocking the ability to consume and aggregate data from anywhere.

No-Code/Low Code

Industrial companies are looking for tools to help simplify their workers’ jobs and empower them to perform their jobs safely and effectively, while making sure the company continues to improve performance. This has led to the use of low-code and no-code technology being incorporated into industrial solutions with the objective of enabling these solutions to be deployed by less experience employees versus being programmed by data scientists or experience engineers.

There are differences between low-code and no-code software development platforms. Low-code software requires minimum coding to configure and deploy and is often used in applications such as control, HMI, and MES.

No-code software development platforms differ as they are tools that allow application development without having to write any code. These platforms typically provide a graph-ical user interface (GUI) that allows users to drag and drop components to create applications. They also often provide a library of pre-built components that can be used to more quickly create applications.

Operational Resilience

These software suites often include capabilities that, for example, help companies break down physical and organizational boundaries to better engage their workforces, connect teams, and enhance real-time collaboration between operations and energy management. These solutions also include capabilities that help supply chains to be managed in real time to maintain their integrity, agility, and flexibility, enabling the company to respond immediately to market demand and shifts in material availability.

Companies are deploying these solutions to protect against unscheduled downtime and asset failures, ensure product fulfillment, protect personnel, sustainably manage their workforce, and enhance security architectures, all of which provide a clear alignment behind their operational resilience journey.

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