Old and new industrial equipment

Design Insights: Finding More Capital; Finding Money in Legacy Machines; Practical PLCs

March 30, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

More Capital? A Capital Idea!

It is a false notion that every manufacturing problem can be solved by simply installing every new innovative product. The process takes examination of your current people and equipment and creating the best solution from the available technology. That said, more technology on the plant floor can identify problems and often point toward the solution.

There is, of course, one big step you have to take before reaching that point—finding the money to invest in such a venture. And as noted in last week’s Automation Forward virtual conference presented by A3, finding that capital can be a challenge, and that challenge isn’t limited to the smaller manufacturers.

“For us, that’s where the challenge is at,” said Jorge Ramirez, global director of execution automation and chief manufacturing cybersecurity officer at General Motors. “We are limited by capital. The easy solution would be to take out all the old and put in the new with all the new smarts that just play harmoniously.”

As the world unwinds itself from the pandemic, those manufacturers quickest to invest for the long-term gains as opposed to the short-term gains may find themselves a step ahead when the recovery hits full speed.

Finding Data, Money in Legacy Machines

There’s also something to be said for taking existing machinery and bringing it into the 21st Century with the use of sensors and data management. As a recent Machine Design article noted, there’s more than data in those legacy machines for machine builders.

“There’s a potential revenue stream from legacy machine data: It lets them sell a service contract to monitor the equipment, not only telling the machine owner when to service the equipment, but also providing technicians who can handle the task outside times of peak use and prevent shutdowns during business hours,” wrote Adam Justice of Grid Connect, Inc. “Connecting legacy machines to the cloud moves a manufacturer closer to the customer because there’s a stream of data about real-time use. That data, in turn, helps engineering departments design better products. As data streams in from the field, engineers and product development teams can see which features or add-ons are widely used or rarely tapped.”

Practical PLCs

The Practical Guide to Programmable Logic Controllers Handbook has been improved with tons of new need-to-know info, making it a more comprehensive guide to the world of PLCs. Besides covering the basics of PLC history, hardware and software, this guide takes you deeper into the ever-changing world of PLC communication, the importance of feedback loops, cybersecurity and many other areas that are a must-know for any PLC novice or seasoned automation professional.

It’s now available for download here.

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