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Expanding The Reach of IoT in the Next Decade

Jan. 28, 2020
Machine Design discusses the how legacy technologies such as Ethernet play a key role in IoT’s future with Bill Dehner, technical marketer for PLC, HMI, Comms and Software at AutomationDirect.com.

As part of Machine Design’s 90th anniversary issue in January, we’ve asked industry experts to take a look at the present and future of technology and how it will impact the design and operation of manufacturing over the next decade.

Q: Before we look ahead, let’s take a look back at the last 10 years. There has been so much change, but what would you cite as one or two significant changes in the last decade?

Dehner: Over the last decade, Ethernet has exploded on the industrial scene and changed the communication landscape for good. With its ease of use, speed and versatility, Ethernet has introduced automated systems to a whole new world of possibilities with connections to high-level IT systems, remote/mobile access, cloud computing, smart devices, etc. And with advances like Power over Ethernet (PoE), Ethernet has become a must for most modern automated systems.    

Q: What’s the one technology update that every design engineer should be incorporating into their systems today? What’s the one technology upgrade that every end user should be demanding?

Dehner: Whenever possible Industrial Ethernet should be the go-to choice for communication in leu of the older, slower or proprietary means.

Q: In areas such as AI, machine learning and IIoT, how quickly do you think these technologies will be adopted in manufacturing?

Dehner: Some faster than others depending on the magnitude of change (disruption) and cost they require. IIoT and machine learning will more likely be adopted first since they are easier to implement. Small, low-cost, IIoT bridges offer end-to-end cloud solutions to easily add IIoT functionality to existing systems. AI may be the biggest disrupter and the biggest expense causing its delayed acceptance, but could deliver the biggest benefit in the long run. 

Q: What does manufacturing look like in 10 years? And what are some of the broad areas your company is focusing on to bring about those changes?

Dehner: One word comes to mind: faster. Faster production, faster communication, faster troubleshooting, faster delivery, etc. As an industrial automation supplier, we are closing monitoring market trends and constantly bringing on products at a lower cost that will allow our customers to succeed in an everchanging environment.

Offering low-cost IIoT and Industry 4.0 products, like the IIoT bridges mentioned above, will expand the reach of these trends and allow everyone—not just high-dollar companies—to experience the benefits these trends can provide. 

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