Control And Instrumentation Play Rugged Role In Industry
Engineering News|Engineering News 28 April 2017

The uptake of new infor-mation technology (IT) in industrial automation has traditionally been at a slower rate compared with that of the broader information and communication technology (ICT) sector, says the Society for Automation Instrumentation, Measurements and Control (SAIMC) professional services portfolio head Petrus Klopper.

Simone Liedtke

He further says companies tend to still use traditional tried and tested architectures for projects locally, often lagging behind available IT industry technology by a number of years.

“This is especially true for companies that have demands – such as high plant availability, safety and uptime – affecting it,” SAIMC adds, noting that traditionally, IT suppliers will introduce new technology alongside established lines and offer some form of “backward compatibility”.

Klopper, who will present ‘The current and future trends in industrial automation’ seminar at the Machine Tools Africa convention, at the Expo Centre Nasrec, in Johannesburg, on May 12, explains that of all the trends – such as robotics, artificial intelligence, virtualisation – the most important one to take note of is the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industry 4.0, which in broad terms relates to ‘connectivity’.

“The main advantage of IoT in relation to industrial automation is that it allows for distributing control and decision-making at a much lower level whereby smaller components of the overall process can become autonomous.” The more automatic a process is, the faster decisions are made and executed, says Klopper, who notes that not all processes depend on throughput speed.

“To make a plant or piece of equipment truly autonomous means that the system has to be totally aware of its surroundings, which it does through instrumentation and sensors.”

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