The plant of the future

In a virtual world, the possibilities are real
By Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant Engineering August 28, 2018

A robotic welding robot goes to work in Rittal's Rittershausen, Germany plant. Courtesy: RittalEven if the intelligence is artificial, the reality is virtual, some of the workers aren’t human and the data is in a cloud, the coming changes in manufacturing are real.

Plant managers are charged each day to grow productivity, increase safety, reduce downtime, and improve profitability. The technological innovations coming to manufacturing-and the strategic shifts needed to bring them to full realization-will require investment, training, and a new way to imagine how to design, make, and move everything in our world.

If this is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, then we’re at the point where we need to pick up these new tools and get to work. But getting started, as so many manufacturers have told us, is the hardest part of the revolution.

So where to begin?

We start with an overview of how and why manufacturing continues to grow worldwide. Despite trade wars and the difficulty to find workers for the new wave of industrial jobs, manufacturing never has been stronger. Our content partner at IHS Markit looked at the near-term trends. The verdict? As the report notes, "left to its own devices, the market will continue to perform strongly in the short term."

Plant Engineering also enlisted the thoughts of some of the industry’s leaders. They are close to their customers and advise them on a continuing basis how to implement the tools of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). As industry manufacturers as well as suppliers and problem solvers, they also must use these tools themselves to begin their own manufacturing journey.

See below to learn more about what these industry leaders believe is the future and what they have done to better prepare their companies for it.

Our team of experts includes:

  • H. Landis "Lanny" Floyd, PE, CSP, CESCP, CMRP, CRL, Life Fellow IEEE, Electrical Safety Group, Inc., and a Plant EngineeringEditorial Advisory Board member
  • Paul J. Galeski, PE, CAP, president and founder of MAVERICK Technologies, LLC, and vice president, North America Systems and Solutions with Rockwell Automation.
  • John Glenski, president of Automation Plus, which received the 2018 System Integrator of the Year award from CFE Media. Glenski also is a Plant EngineeringEditorial Advisory Board member.
  • Kevin Lewis, vice president of Digital Factory, Factory Automation at Siemens
  • Carsten Röttchen, managing director of production at Rittal
  • Rodney Rusk, Connected Industry business leader at Bosch Rexroth Corporation

We also take a deeper look at some of the emerging technologies:

Bob Vavra, content manager, Plant Engineering, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.

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