Subscribe and listen to AW’s podcast!
Subscribe and listen to the Automation World Gets Your Questions Answered podcast!
Listen Here

Communication strategies for manufacturing

When you were a kid, two cans and a string might have been the ultimate for point-to-point communication with your buddies. But in today’s world of manufacturing, things aren’t quite so simple.

In order to compete with companies that have learned to produce goods in rapid response to changing customer demands, more manufacturers are finding it essential to integrate real-time data from manufacturing processes into enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management. Data communication in all of its networking forms is the key support structure for this new way of doing business.

This month’s Automation World focus is communication strategies. In the following pages, we look at various strategies for implementation, and provide some specific examples of how manufacturers have reaped benefits from improved factory data communication.

Opto 22 and Nokia have partnered to provide an industrially charged combination of smart input/output (I/O) products with cellular telephone technology known as machine-to-mobile, machine-to-machine, mobile-to-mobile or just M2M for short. See the full story on page 24.

Only a few years ago, conference programs were filled with panelists debating whether Ethernet, that staple of the IT world, would ever be ready for the factory floor. Several companies bypassed the argument stage and forged ahead with Ethernet implementations. The story beginning on page 28 explores how five different manufacturers, who range from chemical processing plants to die cast machinery manufacturers, have benefited from factory floor Ethernets.

Sometimes networking with wires just seems cumbersome. Sometimes wires just aren’t practical. Wireless technology is advancing, and application ideas are spreading. On page 35, we take a look at some wireless ideas that may just be the ticket for improving your data networking.

One of the newest wireless network schemes is multipoint-to-multipoint in a self-organizing way. Read all about mesh networks on page 40.

The steps that must be taken to bring reality to the concept “from sensor to customer” in both discrete and process manufacturing applications are chronicled in an article beginning on page 44.

Dr. James Truchard, cofounder, president and chief executive officer of National Instruments, shares his vision of how Gen-X communication services such as movies over the Internet will drive higher performance networking for manufacturers. Read his interview starting on page 48.

No matter what type of manufacturing your company does or what role you have, we hope you will find ideas that will help you and your company succeed in this new communications environment.

Test Your Machine Learning Smarts
Take Automation World's machine learning quiz to prove your knowledge!
Take Quiz
Test Your Machine Learning Smarts
How use of robotic technology is sweeping across all industries
We asked nearly 60 industrial end-users and system integrators about their use of robotic technology. This report details the trends they identified and how to compare different types of robots.
Download Now
How use of robotic technology is sweeping across all industries