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Smart Sensors raise the automation IQ

Smart. Intelligent. Brainy. Thanks to modern electronics and information technology, the sensors used so widely throughout today’s manufacturing facilities are becoming more worthy of these labels, especially when combined with modern factory networking systems.

This month’s Automation World examines ways in which so-called “smart” sensors are being deployed to gather and deliver the information needed by managers to make the most of their automation systems.

For a look at the very latest in smart sensor technology—ranging from emerging new standards for automatic sensor calibration, to sensors with “heartbeats,” to ways to make your legacy sensors smarter—check out Editor Gary Mintchell’s article starting on p. 28. The story reveals how smart sensors are still cutting edge stuff, even after all these years of discussion.

While barcodes aren’t going away any time soon, they are increasingly being joined in the factory by a new kind of “smart” automatic-identification technology—namely, radio frequency identification. Contributing Editor Rob Spiegel takes a look at some of the early factory adopters of RFID smart tags in an article beginning on p. 34.

Sensors mounted on factory machines can speak volumes about the condition of that equipment, helping managers and operations personnel head off problems before they occur. In a story that starts on p. 38, Contributing Editor James R. Koelsch details the latest trends in asset condition monitoring.

Ever wonder what’s most important for a successful enterprise asset management program? Here’s a hint: Speed and focus are among the operative words. C. Kenna Amos, contributing editor, fleshes out the details in an article that begins on p. 42.

Talk about focus and intelligence! Jay Lee, Ph.D., and founding director of the National Science Foundation Research Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems, is focused intently these days on ways to advance near-zero-downtime performance by making better use of predictive maintenance technologies. Dr. Lee explained the Center’s latest thinking on the topic in a recent interview with Editorial Director Jane Gerold. Read what he had to say beginning on p. 46.

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