Like many other sectors, the industry is in the midst of change. Increasing digitalization and networking give rise to new technologies and processes, but, above all, create significant potential for automation and optimization.
Trends in automation: Freedom and openness for everyone
Industrial automation is in the middle of a transformation and is set to evolve further in 2022: It will become even more open and collaboration between all market players will play an increasingly important role. Mechanical and plant engineers benefit from much simpler engineering, reduced lock-in and, above all, from optimized solutions which help to ensure their own competitiveness. One issue is now more relevant than ever before: Dependency on global supply chains and individual providers is increasing desire for greater freedom.
The demands when it comes to automation are increasing. Modern automation solutions must support connectivity, communication and maximum integration on the part of third-party providers. At the same time, everyone involved is calling for greater openness. After all, there is a need for ever broader domain knowledge – knowledge which can only be bundled together to create optimum solutions if specialist companies work together. Directly involving users and taking into account their individual needs is also essential when it comes to the automation solutions of the future. At the same time, the need for alternative solutions and open standards is growing as a way of reducing dependency on individual providers.
Developing software as everyone else does
A fully open automation toolkit whose scope for solutions is expanded by the biggest third-party provider ecosystem possible is therefore needed. The knowledge of specialist companies will then come together, resulting in innovations in the area of hardware and software. Users can not only put together their automation solution as required – they can also develop their own software and thus help to shape the new world. One thing in particular is important here: All popular programming languages and tools must be possible and nothing should depend on proprietary tools from individual providers. This is the only way to win over the next generation of developers for the industry and to reduce the dependency on individual automation providers, especially when it comes to software.
Low code/no code: Time to market up to five times shorter
With software development playing an increasingly important role in industrial automation solutions, it must also be possible to come up with solutions even more quickly and easily. The trend is clearly moving towards low code/no code platforms. These platforms are configured instead of being programmed. As a result, people with little or no programming knowledge can easily generate software. The low code approach signals a paradigm shift in industrial automation: Simple applications can be developed up to five times faster and error-free code is obtained.
An engineering revolution is also taking place. Engineering tasks are increasingly being carried out in a web-based manner. Installing a wide range of provider-specific software solutions and maintaining them is virtually unaffordable nowadays. In light of this fact, approx. 70 percent of all engineering work for automation systems such as ctrlX AUTOMATION is web-based (target: 100 percent). Any device with a browser is suitable for this. This is a key advantage, especially during servicing on location, as an engineering PC with the correct software version is often unavailable.
Independence from global supply chains and long-term availability
In addition to increasing calls for simplicity and new degrees of freedom on the technological side, more and more people are calling for independence from providers on a global level. The Corona pandemic and the resulting long-term impairments in global supply chains have clearly revealed the weaknesses associated with globalization. As a result, moving away from individual suppliers looks set to become an even bigger trend in 2022. More re-shoring projects will be carried out while an increasing number of multi-sourcing strategies will be implemented. In the majority of cases, providers will be forced to adopt these changes. After all, some of them are now unable to supply the necessary goods. In a market situation like this, it becomes clear how important an open automation system is, one which allows third-party providers on all levels and thus opens up “life-saving” alternatives even at short notice.
Sustainability is also becoming more and more important. Solutions for the automation sector must ensure the long-term availability of machines and individual components and be easily expandable. The hardware components for the ctrlX AUTOMATION system will therefore be available for at least 25 years and will remain secure at all times thanks to optional permanent software updates. ctrlX AUTOMATION can be expanded with numerous functions later on for extra performance and versatility as necessary.
The concept of sustainability applies to the environment in particular. Production companies are therefore taking steps to become “greener” and use sustainable production methods which take into account factors such as eliminating emissions and using resources efficiently. Sustainability can be improved with the help of modern automation technology, for example through intelligent energy supply and distribution, greater system efficiency and secure access to relevant data which in turn allows the use of data analytics.
Meeting all requirements with modern automation
With its completely open standards as well as app technology, web-based engineering and secure IoT connectivity, ctrlX AUTOMATION offers unparalleled versatility, openness and independence. The ecosystem for the automation toolkit not only increases the scope of solutions available – it also reduces dependency on individual providers. The components in the toolkit have long-term availability and are currently some of the most readily available products on the automation market. This too helps to improve sustainability.
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