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Author's profile photo John Harrison

Manufacturing Tech: The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

If you are like me you have been following the IT/OT discussions and have been wondering what is going on. I have been working in the manufacturing space for over 30 years and as technology changed, connecting together, supporting the business, and presenting the information to the appropriate people, has been getting easier.

Even 30 years ago I was connecting equipment to MRP and other operational support systems,  The discussions that I had with the Industrial Engineers (who controlled the shop floor DCS’s and PLC) were very technical. Meta data definitions, translations from one character set to another, moving data from the PLC, to PC based solutions, to Department Applications (S36 solutions – yes I am that old), to Mainframe solutions.  All had to be discussed and agreed to, so that everything worked.

So when I started to read and listen to the IT/OT, Internet of Things discussions I was confused. Yes more devices were allow access and the wide adoption of the internet was making things easier, faster, and more acceptable .  But nothing that I had not been doing for years.  So what was the fuss about.

Dan Miklovic of LNS Research has just publish an informative  blog that for me put a lot of things in place.

In the blog he gives a very quick evolution of manufacturing technology and answers the question “Why so much hype?”.

His conclusion was that the technology has reached a tipping point.  That technology is on the shop floor is converging in such a way that the synergistic effects of the adoption of multiple technologies will result in transformative behavior.

We are just starting to see this transformation happen.  People are looking at the changing skill sets for people in the new world (e.g. Maintainer of the Future), applications are being written to work with this newly available data (e.g. Rotla OneView), presenting the information in new ways (e.g. Mobile Analytics3D Visualization) .

And like Dan, I can’t wait for what is to come. What will be the new applications? How will we interact? Are we starting to catch up to what we see on TV?

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