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Automation trends for 2021

The trends 2021 in the growth market automation

A push towards automation is expected this year in the manufacturing industry and other segments – also driven by the coronavirus pandemic. The demand for open, easy-to-use and flexible automation solutions will increase independently of this. Common software development tools and programming languages are being used more and more and engineering processes are increasingly completely digital. The use of new technologies such as digital twins and simulations for development and commissioning, as well as for optimization and efficiency improvement also continues to grow. Companies can raise their automation structures to a new level if they pick up on the trends and integrate them into their processes.

The need for automation will be greater in 2021 and will bring new requirements. Fast and flexible solutions are more in demand than ever so that, for example, machine builders and operators can master the challenges in terms of digitalization and networking. Mechanical engineering and other industries are increasingly influenced by software development and want to bring their own know-how into the control and software. Thus, commonly used software development tools and programming languages are increasingly finding their way into automation. And engineering processes will be completely digital in the future.

Today’s users only want to use and pay for what they really need and have the freedom to expand as required at any time. Automation systems should be based on the needs of the users, not the other way around. The trend is therefore clearly moving towards microservice or app-based system architectures instead of large software monoliths. The user thus has the great advantage of being able to put together his solution according to his requirements and to achieve high added value.

Users increasingly prefer open-source systems, as they offer maximum freedomThe Linux operating system often forms the basis here.

Create the best solution with ecosystem and co-creation

The higher-level user goal is therefore to obtain a solution that meets their needs as well and as tailor-made as possible. Therefore, measured by the requirements of Bosch Rexroth customers, the demand for simplicity, openness and flexibility of an automation system that functions like an ecosystem will increase particularly in 2021.

However, the total domain know-how required in automation today is so broad that one company alone cannot cover it. Therefore, the willingness to cooperate increases in all directions. Suppliers, partners and customers work together to find the best solution. Each of us concentrates on our own strengths and contributes partial solutions that interlock perfectly via standardized interfaces.

Bosch Rexroth has created an ecosystem around the open system ctrlX AUTOMATION, which follows this principle. Users can use apps from Bosch Rexroth, applications from third parties or apps they have produced themselves. ctrlX AUTOMATION users can thus access a broad range of applications and download them easily via the App Store. Third-party vendors can offer their own apps via ctrlX World. Bosch Rexroth also relies on co-creation with suppliers of hardware solutions.

The ctrlX AUTOMATION platform fulfills the requirements of the modern user precisely, as it removes the limitations of previous solutions with its open, flexible architecture – based on the high-performance and communication-enabled industrial control unit ctrlX CORE. Bosch Rexroth relies on the Linux real-time operating system, consistently open standards, app technology, web-based engineering and comprehensive IoT connections.

Use of technologies such as digital twins and machine learning on the rise

With ctrlX AUTOMATION, apps such as for the digitization trends in mechanical engineering can be downloaded: applications for the implementation of AI, digital twin or simulation solutions for process optimization in production and much more.

The use of technologies such as digital twins and simulations for development and commissioning, as well as for optimization and efficiency improvement will continue to grow. Especially in mechanical engineering, simulation or the digital twin is an increasingly used technology. Digital twin applications serve to visually reproduce machines or systems and can also be used to better understand and optimize real procedures and processes visually – without having to intervene in reality. They can optimize not only the production processes through prognoses, but the understanding of real-world plant performance and operations.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also playing an increasingly important role in digitized production – be it for predictive maintenance processes or for autonomous production. The use of AI methods enables self-optimizing systems that significantly increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of production processes. AI-based predictive maintenance systems are finding application in predictive maintenance of machinery and equipment, and the production approach in collaborative and context-sensitive robotics is also optimized by AI. Furthermore, in AI-based quality monitoring, continuous improvement in product quality can be achieved as reject rates and inspection costs can be reduced through efficient machine learning. AI-based data analysis and machine learning thus become the basis for the automation and optimization of production processes.

A high-performance and open control platform such as ctrlX CORE is ideally suited as a basis for the implementation of AI, as it is based on the open-source system Linux Ubuntu Core. With the ctrlX Data Layer, ctrlX AUTOMATION offers a standardized storage and access point for all controller data as well as for all units connected to the control. The data are already semantically pre-sorted and thus simplify the application of machine learning algorithms.

New business models and more added value through services

In the course of the digital transformation, products, plants and machines are also increasingly developing into value-adding systems, for example with service models such as remote support.

“Servitization” is another business model innovation that is gaining relevance in the industry. Here, the portfolio is expanded to include service offerings and thus represents a combination of tangible goods and services.

At the same time, pay-per-use models are increasingly gaining ground in the mechanical engineering sector. In the process, machine builders no longer offer their products for sale, but as a service. In other words, they rent out machine capacity. The billing models include various parameters. These can be hours in operation, capacity utilization or the output produced. These financing models are made possible by the end-to-end networking and automation of plant and machinery, as this makes the data required to analyze the underlying parameters available.

Implementation with ctrlX AUTOMATION from Bosch Rexroth

Bosch Rexroth offers the appropriate solution for the new requirements and technology trends in 2021. ctrlX AUTOMATION includes all the necessary software and hardware components for complete system solutions: high-performance control systems, compact drives, safety solutions, I/O modules, HMIs and industry PCs. In addition, countless apps can be downloaded for the digitization trends in mechanical engineering in ctrlX World.


If you have any questions or require further information regarding ctrlX AUTOMATION, please contact us:

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Portrait view of Steffen Winkler, Game Changer ctrlX AUTOMATION

Steffen Winkler

Game Changer

The future of industrial automation

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