Future factory – a moderator’s impression!

01/02/2016

Read-out was asked to moderate the automation stream at the National Manufacturing & Supplies conference held last week outside Dublin. (26th January 2016). In their wisdom the organisers selected “Future Factory!” as a title for this half day seminar and there were 11 speakers organised to speak on their particular subjects for about 15 minutes each. This was replicated in the the over a dozen different seminars held on this one day.

q#MSC16

Long queues lasted well into the morning to enter the event!

We were a little sceptical that this would work but with the help of the organisers and the discipline of the speakers the time targets were achieved. Another target achieved was the number of attendees at the event as well as those who attended this particular seminar.
In all between exhibitors, speakers and visitors well over 3000 packed the venue. Probably far more than the organisers had anticipated and hopefully a potent sign that the economy is again on the upturn. Indeed it was so successful that it was trending (#MSC16) on twitter for most of the day.

Seminar
But back to our seminar. If you google the term Future Factory you get back 207million links, yet it is difficult to find a simple definition as to what it means. The term automation similarly is a very difficult term to define though the term in Irish “uathoibriú” perhaps is a bit clearer literally meaning “self-working.”

uturefactory.jpg

Good attendance at the Seminar

Background
The world of automation has changed to an extrordinary degree and yet in other ways it remains the same. The areas where it has experienced least change is in the areas of sensing – a thermometer is a thermometer – and final control – a valve is a valve. Where it has changed almost to the point of unrecognisability is in that bit in the middle, what one does with the signal from the sensor to activate the final control element.

From single parameter dedicated Indicator/Controller/Recorders in the sixties which transmitted either pnuematically (3-15psi) or electrically (4-20mA). Gradually (relatively speaking) most instruments became electronic, smaller in size and multifunctional. The means of communication changed too and fieldbus communication became more common to intercact with computors which themselves were developing at breaknech speed. Then transmission via wireless became more common and finally the internet and the ability to control a process from the computer that we call the intelligent phone. There are problems with these latter, internet/cellphone, of course. One is that the reach of the internet is focussed at present on areas of high population. Another is the danger of infiltration of systems by hostile or mischivous strangers. The importance of security protocols is one that has only recently been apparent to Automation professionals.

• Many of the presentations are available on-line here. The password is manufac2016

The Presentations
Maria Archer of Ericsson spoke on the enabling and facilitating IoT in the manufacturing industry. Diving straight into topic she drew on her experience of big data, e-commerce, media, cyber security, IOT and connected devices.

The second speaker was Cormac Garvey of Hal Software who addressed Supply Chain prototyping. The Supply Chain ecosystem is incredibly complex, usually requiring significant integration of each suppliers’ standards and processes to the manufacturer’s. Cormac will introduce the concept of supply chain prototyping, where easy-to-use, standards-based technology is used to wireframe out the entire supply chain ecosystem prior to integration, thus significantly reducing cost, time and risk on the project. This wireframe can then be used as a model for future integration projects.

Two speakers from the Tralee Institute of Technology, Dr. Pat Doody and Dr. Daniel Riordan spoke on RFID, IoT, Sensor & Process Automation for Industry 4.0. They explained how IMaR’s (Intelligent Mechatronics and RFID) expertise is delivering for their industrial partners and is available to those aiming to become a part of Industry 4.0.

Smart Manufacturing – the power of actionable data was the topic addressed by Mark Higgins of Fast Technology. He shared his understanding of the acute issues companies face on their journey to Business Excellence and how leveraging IT solutions can elevate the business to a new point on that journey.

Assistant Professor (Mechanical & Manuf. Eng) at TCD, Dr Garret O’Donnell,   explained how one of the most significant initiatives in the last 2 years has been the concept of the 4th industrial revolution promoted by the National Academy for Science and Engineering in Germany- ACATECH, known as Industrie 4.0. (Industrie 4.0 was first used as a term in Germany in 2011).

Another speaker from Fast Technologies, Joe Gallaher, addressed the area of Robotics and how Collaborative Robots are the “Game Changer” in the modern manufacturing facility.

Dr. Hassan Kaghazchi of the University of Limerick and Profibus spoke on PROFINET and Industrie 4.0. Industrial communications systems play a major role in today’s manufacturing systems. The ability to provide connectivity, handle large amount of data, uptime, open standards, safety, and security are the major deciding factors. This presentation shows how PROFINET fits into Industrial Internet of Things (Industrie 4.0).

White Andreetto

Maurice Buckley CEO NSAI

The CEO of NSAI, the Irish National Standards Authority, Maurice Buckley explained how standards and the National Standards Authority of Ireland can help Irish businesses take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution and become more prepared to reap the rewards digitisation can bring.

The next two speakers stressed the impact of low forecast accuracy on the bottom line and how this coulbe be addressed. Jaap Piersma a consultant with SAS UK & Ireland explained that low forecast accuracies on the business performance is high in industry but with the right tools, the right approach and experienced resources you can achieve very significant result and benefits for your business. Following him Dave Clarke, Chief Data Scientist at Asystec, who mantains the company strategy for big data analytics service development for customers. He showed how are incredible business opportunities possible by harnessing the massive data sets generated in the machine to machine and person to machine hyper connected IoT world.

The final speaker David Goodstein, Connected Living Project Director, GSMA, described new form factor mobile SIMs which are robust, remotely manageable which are an essential enabler for applications and services in the connected world.

All in all a very interesting event and useful to attendees. Papers are being collected and should be available shortly on-line.

It is hoped to do it all again next year on 24th January 2017- #MSC17.

See you there.

@NationalMSC #MSC16 #PAuto #IoT


Creating an Innovative Manufacturing & Supply Chain Eco-System. @natmancom

21/12/2015

Word-Cloud-LogisticsMatter-2010-920x300

In line with its newfound status as an All-Ireland ‘must-attend’ annual event, the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition has switched to a larger and more conveniently placed venue, moving from the Aviva Stadium to the Citywest Hotel to the west of Dublin city.  The one-day event is expected to attract over 2,000 delegates from across Ireland with 100 exhibitors offering over 2,000 products and services.

meetingDesigned with the objective of connecting key stakeholders across the full spectrum of Irish manufacturing, including the food, pharmaceutical, medical, chemical, life sciences and electronics manufacturing sectors, the third National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition will be held on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016.

The Conference is held in conjunction with an Exhibition of the latest processing and supply chain technology available to Irish industry. Suppliers from all key industrial sectors will be exhibiting at the 2016 event.

National Forum
Now in its third year, The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition provides a forum for manufacturers and operators involved throughout the supply chain from across Ireland – North and South – to gather to discuss pressing issues facing Irish industry.

The theme of the 2016 event is ‘Creating an Innovative Manufacturing & Supply Chain Eco-System’ and an impressive line-up of speakers from manufacturing, academia and government agencies will explore the key problems, challenges and opportunities facing Irish industry.

Colin Murphy, Managing Director of Premier Publishing & Events, organisers of this event says, “A list of 75 speakers is currently being finalised along with the various free workshops and 20 supporting associations. The speakers at the Conference have been carefully selected from senior management within Irish industry and academia, who have a successful track record of delivering quantifiable results in sustainable manufacturing and throughout the supply chain, and who can offer delegates a clear pathway to enhancing competitiveness and innovation.”

Speakers at The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition 2016 include: Colm J Murphy, Senior Human Resources Manager at Hollister ULC; Arthur Stone, CEO of OEEsystems; Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dr Richard Keegan, a specialist in the areas of Lean/World Class Business and Benchmarking with Enterprise Ireland; and Liam Cassidy, Managing Director of LCL Consult Ltd. Representatives from Pfizer, Lake Region Medical and Mondelez International will also be speaking at the event.

The Citywest Hotel complex with its easy access and free car parking is strategically placed to host All-Ireland events of this nature.

New For 2016 – Jobs Expo
A new feature at the 2016 event is the Jobs Expo area, dedicated to highlighting the many employment opportunities currently available throughout the Irish manufacturing and supply chain sectors. This purpose-designed jobs, employment and recruitment section of the National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition will act as an interface between suitably qualified job seekers and representatives from both national and international companies with vacancies. With many businesses experiencing skills shortages, the new addition is timely.

Networking Opportunity
The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition 2016 will provide an ideal forum for meeting Government agencies and supporting associations, and gaining free advice from experts. It will also provide networking zones to connect buyers and suppliers.

The layout of the Conference & Exhibition is intended to maximise the opportunity for delegates to network and make new contacts.


What’s the future for the electronics instrumentation sector?

11/12/2015

Looking back at the past 10-15 years of the electronic instrumentation industry, it is certainly disappointing to realize that the market for new test equipment in 2015 is about the same size or less. What does this tell us and will the industry perform better in the future?

Recently, Frost & Sullivan published three market insights about the future of the electronic industry and what will determine it, where the new opportunities for growth are, and how to stay profitable in changing economical environment.

These market insights are listed below:

Jessy_Cavazos

Jessy Cavazos – Frost & Sullivan

“In the past decade, the electronics instrumentation industry did not maximize the revenue opportunity coming from the move towards connectivity and the proliferation of electronics as most companies missed out on dramatic changes happening in the customer base,” says Jessy Cavazos, Industry Director for Test & Measurement, Frost & Sullivan.

Over the next 5-10 years, 5G and other technologies will take the electronics instrumentation market to higher frequencies spelling significant growth opportunities for test manufacturers. The move towards a more connected, zero-latency, and autonomous world will certainly provide room for growth for the electronic instrumentation market. With the Internet of Things (IoT), a myriad of devices will be connected to the Internet. While low latency will not be provided for all applications and devices in the short term due to costs, the desire for low or no latency for a number of devices and applications is here and will provide opportunities to test manufacturers.

While wireless communications and aerospace and defense will remain significant end-user segments for electronic test and measurement equipment, demand is likely to increase in smaller end-user segments such as automotive and industrial electronics due to the greater integration of wireless technology in various devices.

The world is also on the path to become more autonomous with mobile robots, drones, and autonomous cars. While all of these technologies will translate into demand for electronic instrumentation, some, such as the autonomous car, will generate significant opportunities for test manufacturers due to the onus put on safety. Leading automotive OEMs are currently embracing automated driving translating into significant R&D opportunities for test manufacturers.

The hyper connectivity of customers will also call for a greater focus from test manufacturers on their go-to-market channels. While online channels have grown in importance for mid and low-end test equipment, this trend is also relevant to more high-end expensive test equipment from a digital marketing perspective.

“The next decade will not come without challenges for the electronics instrumentation industry. However, trends are favorable to the future growth of the electronic test and measurement market. Test manufacturers must not only be aware of the evolution of technologies and related test requirements but also expand their horizons to understand the impact of other trends on their business,” summarised Ms. Cavazos.


Increased Activity in Multiple End-use Industries Rejuvenates Global PLC Market!

24/01/2015
Competition spurs innovation in technology and pricing

The global programmable logic controllers (PLC) market witnessed a strong decline in growth in 2012 due to the uncertain economic scenario in the developed world, most notably in the mature markets of North America and Europe. Since 2013, however, the market has witnessed positive growth across all regions. In particular, emerging regions such as Asia-Pacific are displaying uptrends due to increased activity in the construction, water and wastewater, and power industries.

typplcNew analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Programmable Logic Controllers Market, finds that the market earned revenues of €8.92 billion ($10.37 billion) in 2013 and estimates this to reach €12.55 billion ($14.58 billion) in 2018. The study covers services, software, modular input/output modules, programmable automation controller as well as large, medium, small and nano PLC. In the coming years, the small and medium PLC segments will be instrumental for market development.

In Europe, the need to enhance efficiency, comply with regulations as well as improve safety and control capabilities are driving the uptake of PLC. Market progress in the rest of the world is primarily fuelled by the desire to optimise assets, engage in reliable process planning, and achieve operational agility.

“With increasing customer demand and intense competition among tier-one companies, the global PLC market is poised to witness a surge in technology and pricing innovation,” said Frost & Sullivan Industrial Automation & Process Control Industry Analyst Karthik Sundaram. “Market participants have been developing products with new design and control functions that surpass traditional definitions.”

For the innovative wave to have a definite impact, boosting the security features in PLC hardware, software, and the network infrastructure should be a key focus area. As cyber security influences end-user perception of PLC, addressing threats will be equally important for continued market expansion.

“PLC manufacturers must offer robust support services, roll out cost-effective products, and communicate winning value propositions to customers,” advised Sundaram. “They should also strive to expand their geographical presence and refine their domain expertise to taste success.”


Viva España! A look at manufacturing in Spain!

19/09/2014

The Spanish saying “a grandes males, grandes remedios” is the equivalent of “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Even as the recession was taking a heavy toll on the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone, the Spaniards remained optimistic. And it seems their hard work and energy is finally starting to pay off, because Spanish manufacturing has significantly picked up in recent months.

An_SpainnEuropean Automation provides industrial automation spare parts to many Spanish companies from across industry sectors. In recent years, they have seen a dip in demand from the area, but the good news is that since the middle of last year, the number of orders from Spain has been on the rise. Regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country and industries like automotive and metal processing, have taken the lead in this slow, but steady recovery process.

Let’s talk economics
The fact that Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.2 per cent in 2013 is not particularly encouraging. However, this year’s predictions show a rise of one per cent. While it’s hardly an impressive figure, it is good news, especially in the context of falling labour costs and increased private investment in capital equipment across industries.

Historically, Spain is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers. It is still the second largest auto manufacturer in Europe, a leader in the production of canned goods and fourth in the production and exports of machinery and tools.

In February 2014, manufacturing production in Spain increased by 4.3 per cent compared to February 2013. In March 2014, the good news flow continued, as manufacturing activity in the country of the great Miguel de Cervantes expanded at its fastest pace since April 2010.

According to the Markit research group, the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of Spain has grown again in March, from 52.5 in February, to 52.8. Any score above 50 on the PMI index suggests that the industry is expanding, which is excellent news, because it reflects a slow, but stable strengthening of business conditions.

Industry heroes
Although the Spanish market is extremely varied and – some might say – painfully fragmented, certain regions and sectors are showing obvious signs of recovery. Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country in particular, have had excellent trajectories.

Catalonia is the most important region in the Spanish economy, providing around 20 per cent of the country’s GDP. Its most prolific sectors are life sciences, with biotechnology and research and development projects leading the industry, alongside the automotive, chemical and food and beverage industries. International trade shows like the Mobile World Congress, the Smart City World Congress and the third largest food show in Europe – Alimentaria – attract powerful investors to the region, confirming it as a vibrant hub for manufacturing and innovation.

Much like Catalonia, the Basque Country is a very different entity from the rest of Spain, both culturally and economically. The number of technical clusters in an area the size of Scotland is truly impressive, with the main priorities being renewable energy, advanced engineering, life sciences and ICT.

Strong Spanish growth estimates are just one of the many indicators that the struggling Eurozone state is finally stepping away from the recession. However, it’s not quite time to “para baillar la bamba,” just yet. Now is the moment for strategic investments and innovative solutions – a time to seize growth opportunities and leave the recession behind.


Automation survey results announced.

09/09/2014
Professionals express positive outlook for automation in Ireland now and in the future!

The Automation Market Survey,organised by Irish company SimoTechnology, specialists Manufacturing Information Systems for regulated industries such as life sciences and food & beverage, has been published. The survey ran from 10th June through 5th August 2014 and Pat Desmond, Managing Director, expressed himself satisfied with the number of responses received.

Request your copy!

    Request your copy!

The survey incorporates a wide representation among the automation community of practice, primarily in Ireland, with participation from a good variety of employers, employees, and contractors at different levels across the main industry sectors.

“Significantly, the survey results would indicate an overall positive outlook in the industry at present with industry professionals and engineers expecting this outlook to continue for the foreseeable future or to improve further,” says Pat Desmond.

Among the results of note are:

  • Job security or prospects are reported as improved among Staff (46.15%) and Contractors (46.15%) and Employers/Owners/Directors (53.33%).
  • Job satisfaction is reported as generally high with 74.36% of Staff and 69.23% of Contractors being Satisfied with their current roles
  • For those considering a move the key motivators are
      – Contractors: Remuneration and Location
      – Senior Mangers: Career Progression and Remuneration
      – Staff: Job Security, Location and Career/Technical
  • The Most Challenging Aspects of working in the automation field are reported as Excessive Workload/Unrealistic Demands by 60.26% of Staff and 46.15% of Contractors. Among Employers/Owner/Directors Travel Away From Home is reported as the most challenging aspect of their roles by 46.15% of respondents.
  • In the technical skills required in the industry the areas of most shortage are reported as Process Automation, Data Historian/Reporting and MES with long delays (1-4 months) in sourcing candidates or no suitable candidates being reported by some Employers/Owner/Directors in these fields.

Request your own copy of the Automation Market Survey 2014


Labhair liom! Speak to me! Parle-moi! Languages in marketing automation!

18/08/2014
With a work force that boasts 20 different nationalities and 17 languages, the industrial automation spares supplier, European Automation is keen to show its support for any programme promoting learning new languages. Indeed, its recent linguistic placements and support for the British government initiative encouraging businesses to identify the benefits of employing postgraduate language students, is reflected in its endorsement of the European Day of Languages

Our planet has over 7 billion people who speak between 6,000 and 7,000 different languages. In Europe alone there are more than 225 indigenous languages, which only amount to three per cent of the world’s total. “Now how bad do you feel that the extent of your multilingual capabilities is speaking louder and more slowly when abroad and extensive use of hand signals?” In celebration of all these tongues and dialects, the 26 of September is European Day of Languages.

LTnahEEuropean Day of Languages promotes linguistic diversity as a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and encourages events designed to showcase the benefits of multilingualism.

European Automation knows all about the importance of speaking the lingo when it comes to international business. 82 per cent of their sales currently come from exports and thus it’s essential that we not only speak in terms that our customers understand, but also remain aware of cultural differences.

LTnahE_Logo“With a work force that boasts 20 different nationalities and 17 languages, we feel that we’re not doing too badly on the linguistic and cultural diversity fronts. We regularly organise days celebrating different nationalities – these consist of staff bringing in different foods, playing music and generally getting into the spirit of multiculturalism.”

Their special days are not too dissimilar from the range of events promoting the learning of languages scheduled across the continent for European Day of Languages. Those who wish to be involved the can organise their own event and submit it to the European Day of Languages’ page; there’s even a prize for the most innovative idea. Here is the full list of what’s going on and how you can enter! 

sprachrLanguage can often be a barrier for companies looking to export and can seriously impede a company’s growth. When our customers call from different parts of the world, they are put through to a native language speaker with relevant cultural knowledge. This eliminates communication problems and creates an authentic relationship between our customers and our sales team. Needless to say, in any language, the benefit of this is huge/énorme/riesig/ollmhór/огромный… well, you get the gist.

Therefore the need for more language specialists in companies like European Automation is crucial.

On May 6, British business secretary Vince Cable announced a new initiative, which encourages companies to identify and employ postgraduate students with relevant language skills for key overseas markets. European Automation strongly supports the initiative and have actively sought to nurture local linguistic talents.

They recently rewarded three Newcastle College (GB) linguists a two week placement at European Automation after they beat off fierce competition. All three had to apply for the placement by interviewing first in English and then in their chosen second language, earning themselves the chance to put their skills to the test in the working world.

According to the research that sparked the initiative to recruit more multilingual postgraduate students, as much as €60 billion (£48 billion)  is lost in international sales because of poor language skills and cultural ignorance. Talking louder and enunciating (whilst pointing, always remember to point!) may be fine to communicate with the hotel barman in Lanzarote, but it certainly isn’t good enough for businesses looking to succeed when exporting abroad.

“So what have you got planned for the September 26? Why not take a leaf out of our book and embrace a different culture, or more than one for that matter, in the spirit of European Day of Languages.”

ag_caint