Trends in industrial automation

The arrival of deterministic Ethernet for industrial control is one of four key trends in industrial automation identified by Andy Reid, president of PacMation Inc., a Seattle-based independent distributor of automation technology.

The other three trends:

• The heightened need for machinery OEMs facing low-cost competition to create value through efficient use of technology.

• Growing frustration with proprietary systems, excessive hardware costs, and recurring software maintenance fees.

• Reduced pressure on OEMs to produce brand-specific controls systems.

“The last item is particularly significant, as user-specified [controls] brands have been prevalent in the states,” notes Reid. “We believe that the acceptance of open networks, programming standards, Ethernet communications, and connectivity options will allow users to shift focus from controller brand to system performance and value. We also believe it will be liberating for OEMs to design for performance, rather than being constrained by a spec’d controls system, which has a tendency to commoditize their machine.”

Reid’s comments appeared in [i]automation[n], a quarterly publication put out by Germany’s B&R, a maker of industrial automation components.

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