Why Aren’t More Machines “Aware” of Their Own Surroundings?
Interconnecting machines and sharing data such that the entire production line is aware of the status of each of its dependents, only alerting personnel to exceptions requiring manual intervention improves the system. All other events are handled by sound local decisions based on awareness of the rest of the line. Note: The machine can be constantly aware; the operator needs to do research to have current information at his or her disposal. So why is it that
this intelligence isn’t the norm? Capability is what a machine provides, but that capability is only realized when inputs are available for use and outputs can be received. Knowledge of both is very important, but we usually think of them as discrete, rather than continuous.
Process automation “sees” things as continuous, which is the way machines should, too. When you talk about getting rid of the lights, it forces us to view the machines and the roles they serve differently, doesn’t it? It also tends to push us in a direction that leads towards smart, highly flexible, productive facilities. Remember, it’s not about how fast we produce; it’s about how effectively we produce.
Author: Jack Chopper, Chief Electrical Controls Engineer, Filamatic