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The Connected Factory: Solution Brief

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The Connected Factory: Solution Brief

Executive Summary

The quick-paced and global nature of our economy today is effecting a sea change in the industrial automation industry— a level of change not seen since the automation revolution nearly 40 years ago. Manufacturing has become more competitive as extremely agile and low-cost producers come online and undercut long-established vendors. Customers meanwhile require ever-faster innovation and shorter product cycles, something traditional manufacturers cannot easily deliver. Along with increasing automation complexity, these trends suggest that vendors need new and more agile processes—now.

Because veteran manufacturers built their businesses and factories on proprietary systems and processes that in themselves were meant to deter competition, they cannot quickly and easily adapt to these new threats. What makes factories so unresponsive to changing marketplace conditions is their proprietary nature. Although highly automated, most factories use purpose-built technology to control and operate their production processes. There are multiple problems with this approach including the fact that any changes to the processes require new systems and devices—a lengthy and costly process in itself. In addition, the device and control layers on the factory floor cannot exchange information with the business and data networks that runs the company. People must be intermediaries; interpreting information and translating it into actionable data between the networks.

Manufacturers are beginning to recognize how traditional automation systems are hindering their ability to respond quickly to changing demands and effectively compete in today’s global economy. In this regard, they are rethinking the components that add time and cost to their manufacturing processes. Several technology trends are emerging as a result, including: the move to open, standards-based compute architectures; platform consolidation; and, the convergence of automation processes.

Read the full The Connected Factory Solution Brief.