The missing link in the supply chain

Factories of the future: The honesty behind the hype

Terms like ‘factories of the future’, ‘industry 4.0’ and ‘industrial internet of things’ are part of common vocabulary. So much so that people not working in the sector presume robots and AI are running factories. Those of us in the game know the hype does not match the reality. Machines are costly in the extreme and no one is going to throw out a 20-year-old robotic arm for a shiny new one that comes with a $250,000 price tag.

Investment in industrial automation technology is a strategic business decision. A factory upgrade isn’t as simple as getting the new iPhone or plugging in Alexa. The rest of the population might be fooled by the 30-second videos on Twitter that show hyper-sophisticated—and entirely unaffordable—robots taking care of business, but we’re a long way from that being the norm. Newly built factories might have some leeway, but the majority of manufacturers have invested in machines 10s of years old and will keep using them until they break. Society might be going through a rapid digital revolution, but in the manufacturing sector it is a slow evolution.

The vital thing is that all technology and devices on the shop floor are maintained and continually updated so that they remain compatible with newer components, and all devices work in unison. Regular software updates also protect against hacks which are becoming more prevalent. The crucial master key to staying competitive isn’t spending hundreds of thousands on new technology, but simply maintaining the technology you currently use. Thus, makes sure newer communication devices click in with the rest of your production line.

But updating software can create its own complications. Most shop floors include thousands of sensors, PLCs, PACs, smart sensors, industrial network devices etc. All of these components need to work in unison. Even updating automation systems from the same vendor can be problematic. There are several boxes involved with all sorts of revision numbers and dates—not to mention the services you’re entitled to, the supporting equipment. Furthermore, these boxes include underlying operating systems, drivers, network interfaces and applications, compounding any update issues.

But if you keep software updated you can make the most of operations even if you don’t have the latest oven or 5G robotic arm.

The smart ecosystem getPlus seamlessly integrates into all databases – SAP, Oracle so updates are achieved onsite with the click of a button. Ask your automation provider about getPlus or .