Distributed Control Systems have been used in manufacturing processes since the 1970s. The 1980s added intelligence and the first signs of truly distributed systems began to pop‐up. It was in the 1990s that there was a movement to use commercial off‐the‐shelf components and traditional IT standards such as Ethernet networks.
The last decade has seen the proliferation of a more standard IT network in the realm of industrial control systems. Windows servers and workstations running DCS software applications are now the norm. Networks are now interconnected with corporate systems and data is readily available outside of the manufacturing facilities.
The next step in the evolution of these systems appears to be virtualization. The benefits of a virtualized environment are numerous. These systems are reliable and robust–two of the most important factors in the 24/7 environment of manufacturing–and they are ushering in a new era of technology.