Mike Granby, Red Lion Controls
The factory of the future will still have Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Human-Machine Interface (HMI) panels, but someone half a world away will likely be monitoring and controlling them. That person may be sitting at a desk watching over a global network of facilities or checking the latest production statistics from a smartphone. Either way, the vision of the "Connected Factory" is evolving from concept to reality, as the explosive growth in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections, mobile devices in the enterprise, and wireless data traffic shows. Implementing this approach, however, is not simply a matter of connecting devices to Ethernet and wireless networks. The fundamentals must be right to ensure that facilities produce information that can be accessed, monitored, and controlled from anywhere.