Industrial automation has profited tremendously from technology advances in recent years. Industrial Ethernet, distributed intelligence, “smart” safety, and wireless networking are just a few of the enabling technologies that have brought tangible value to end-users. But manufacturers are traditionally arch-conservative decision-makers and don’t accept new a technology until it is well proven, or until investments in these technologies can be corroborated with solid business arguments. Faced with a landscape of both fact and hype, manufacturers are learning how to match technology benefits to specific business metrics.
Two topics in particular – industrial Ethernet and safety - have caught the attention of manufacturers in recent years thanks to their potential to cut costs and improve business performance. Industrial Ethernet has unified network architectures and created a high level of data transparency from which applications such as Asset Management or Manufacturing Execution Systems profit tremendously. Safety has evolved from being a cost burden and “necessary evil” to a strategy for improving productivity and reducing downtime.