The concept of the smart factory has been steadily evolving over the past few years as its moves towards the goal of providing harmonious communication between shop-floor devices and enterprise-wide management systems. Ultimately, the ambition is to ensure productivity and quality are maximised, from quotation and order, to manufacturing and dispatch. Such a transition also provides the perfect opportunity to address a sometimes overlooked aspect of smart factory operations: energy efficiency.
Europe has taken an early lead when it comes to implementing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrie 4.0 as the Germans prefer to call it, with companies having invested in IoT technologies at higher levels than their US counterparts. The latest update to the Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts total spending on IoT solutions in Europe to increase by 19.8% year on year to reach $171 billion in 2019. Of this, the share of discrete manufacturing is $20 billion, which can be attributed to IIoT.
Pneumatic technology is an old and well-known friend of industrial automation systems. Simple and accessible, pneumatics delivers several benefits, largely due to the characteristics of its power source: compressed air. Safety, reduced operational costs, ease of implementation and cost-effectiveness are among the main reasons why many European plants continue to favor pneumatic automation.
Although sensors have been important devices in manufacturing and process plants for many years, today they have a particularly crucial role to play. Thanks to a number of enhanced features, matched by high levels of flexibility and increasingly compact dimensions, the latest smart sensors have become stars in the world of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT). For users, smart sensor evolution means greater profitability provided by more productive assets.