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Industrial Automation

The Industrial Automation Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about machine control, information and intelligence, motors and drives, instruments, sensors and networking. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Machine Learning and Big Data Offer Massive Potential

Posted March 12, 2017 12:00 AM by Designerz
Pathfinder Tags: Big Data RS Components

You may not realize it, but your interactions on the internet are being leveraged as the information sources used to make decisions in a variety of very clever software-based systems. Leading tech firms – such as Google and Netflix – regularly leverage user-specific search and activity data to feed algorithms that ultimately streamline and enhance customer deliverables. The result being that you gain an online experience customized to your tastes.

Interestingly, if we replace ‘user-specific data’ with ‘machine/process-specific data’ it quickly becomes clear that the same Big Data approach – coupled to machine learning – has the potential to revolutionize industry. The problem is that even simple manufacturing cells can generate huge amounts of data. So how do you make sense of it all and – more importantly – then use it to your advantage?

This is where AI and machine learning will step in. By distinguishing relevant data from noise, defining logical connections and correlations and removing any non-connectable data, AI can quickly provide pertinent information upon which decisions can be made. Feed it even more historical data and it will make even better decisions.

This isn’t a pipe dream either. AI and machine learning can be catered for, now, by any company running any solution. Indeed, adding data-gathering capabilities to even the ‘dumbest’ manufacturing operation is relatively straightforward and can be achieved with a very palatable financial outlay. In the very near future this data will (more than likely) be fed to subscription-based services that will securely collect, collate, translate and deploy solutions and answers that will not only allow users to make better decisions, but will also create the next industrial paradigm.

Luckily Big Data does not need big pockets. At RS Components, we already have many initiatives in place to both cater for the demands and exploit the benefits of the Big Data-driven manufacturing economy. Even the most basic manufacturing data – especially when leveraged intelligently – can make a huge difference and the path to adoption is already wide open and incredibly well supported for applications of any size, and at a sensible budget.


Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from RS Components.

1 comments; last comment on 03/13/2017
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Molecular Imaging Hack Makes Cameras "Faster"

Posted December 23, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Super temporal resolution microscopy (STReM), which uses a rotating phase mask to encode fast dynamics in each camera frame, allows scientists to view and gather useful information about fluorescing molecules at a frame rate 20x faster than typical lab cameras allow.


Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Industrial Automation eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

3 comments; last comment on 12/24/2016
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How Technology Evolves Money

Posted November 30, 2016 10:41 AM by HUSH

Our financial futures are closely tied to the rise of automation and electronification. Considering this is CR4, this won’t come as a surprise. Technology has always heavily influenced not only what people spend on, but also how they spend.

But the changes to society’s financial institutions are happening much more quickly than some might expect. Here are two examples:

McDonalds Kills Cashier (Jobs)

Lately, the National Burger Factory, a.k.a. McDonald’s, has begun eliminating cashier jobs in states where the minimum wage is expected to soon hike up to $15 an hour, and will continue to do so in 2017. Those states are New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington.

McDonald’s, the second largest employer in the world as of 2012, argues it can’t afford to pay workers $15 an hour. To begin cost cutting, restaurant patrons make orders at a kiosk and wait at a table while humans cook and deliver the food. According to Glassdoor, the average cashier wage is $8.53. The McDonald’s closest to me is 24/7/365. Employing just one cashier at a time for one year for an always-open restaurant costs nearly $75,000 annually. Considering this, it is actually surprising that kiosks haven’t happened sooner.

McDonald’s has had increased competition from fast casual burger joints like Five Guys and Shake Shack in recent years. The company has noticed that customers who order from kiosks tend to order more food, in addition to the cost savings it offers. Once other fast food restaurants start to rollout order kiosks, the entire burger cooking and packaging task is next to be automated. The technology has existed since the 1990s, but has been waiting for the moment when economies of scale finally made the technology commercially viable.

No Krona For You

Sweden is preparing to be the first country that eliminates physical currency in favor of digital currency.

For nearly 150 years Sweden’s currency has been the krona, which translates as crown in English. It was also Denmark’s and Norway’s currency up until World War I. As a U.S. dollar can be exchange for 100 pennies, a Swedish krona can be exchanged for 100 öre.

Yet Sweden is currently reforming its currency. Since the 1970s, Sweden has been reducing the amount of öre coins it prints, first ceasing production of 1 and 2 öre coins, then 5 and 25 öre denominations were eliminated, and then the 10 öre coin. In 2010, the last öre coin, the 50, was retired from use. Next, the country is requiring all 1, 2 and 5 kronor coins to be of a new, updated design. Old designs will no longer be considered tender after June 30, 2017.

Slowly but surely, the country is now phasing out the use of banknotes. It has eliminated 1,000 and 10,000 kronor notes, and forced the country to adopt new designs of other notes, lest they become worthless as well.

Since 2009, physical money circulation in Sweden has fallen 40%. Swedes instead utilize credit cards, typically armed with microchips, or smartphones with apps linked to accounts that pay via near-field communication readers.

Most Swedish banks refuse to accept or deal in physical tender, as it adds too much labor or incentive for robbery. Banks also charge negative interest rates in Sweden, so the more money a person has in their electronic account, the more the bank is making. The government supports reducing the need to regulate and print money, and tax evasion is almost impossible when all funds can be electronically audited. Merchants won’t have to keep tabulate physical currency or worry about dishonest employees.

It seems consumers are the only ones seeing the potential downsides, with omnipresent purchasing surveillance one of the most prominent issues.


Both of these examples present how technology is reshaping our relationships with money. In one instance it changes how some people earn their money, in the other how people can use their money.

Is it possible that changes to the fundamental idea of money are next?

14 comments; last comment on 12/02/2016
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Don’t Miss the 25th Annual Automation Fair® Event!

Posted October 02, 2016 12:00 AM by RockwellAutomation

Join us on Nov. 9-10 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta to see the advanced technologies, services and solutions that can help you achieve faster time to market, optimize assets, lower total cost of ownership and reduce enterprise risk.

Hosted by Rockwell Automation and members of its PartnerNetwork program, the 25th annual Automation Fair® event will also feature opportunities to network with peers and experience products first-hand.

Here, you can learn how to apply the most contemporary industrial automation and information solutions to machines, plants and production to more fully leverage the power of IT/OT convergence and build toward a Connected Enterprise.

The 2016 Automation Fair® event will include:

  • More than 150 exhibits
  • 19 hands-on labs featuring Rockwell Automation products and technology
  • 95 Technical sessions and demonstrations from Rockwell Automation and PartnerNetwork companies
  • Nine forums showcasing customers and industry leaders sharing best practices for the following industries and segments:
    • Automotive
    • Chemical
    • Food and Beverage
    • Global Machine and Equipment Builders (OEMs)
    • Life Sciences
    • Oil and Gas
    • Power and Energy
    • Pulp and Paper
    • Water Wastewater
  • User-group meetings
  • Networking opportunities with industry experts and peers

Process Solutions User Group

If you’re in a process industry, join the Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) annual meeting on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 7 and 8. PSUG will bring together more than 800 operations, IT and engineering professionals in process industries to share best practices and learn from peers.

The event will include more than 35 hands-on labs and technical sessions, as well as presentations from more than 25 Rockwell Automation customers. Attendees also can provide feedback to direct the development and technical roadmap for the PlantPAx® distributed control system from Rockwell Automation.

Registration for the 2016 Automation Fair® event and PSUG is now open online:

https://events.rockwellautomation.com/profile/form/index.cfm?PKformID=0x212434d6d

You can contact automationfair@ra.rockwell.com with any questions about attending the event.

Automation Fair, PartnerNetwork and PlantPAx are trademarks of Rockwell Automation Inc.


Editor's Note: This is a sponsored blog post by Rockwell Automation.

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Harnessing Business Information Software

Posted June 20, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Manufacturers have begun to embrace business information (BI) software, with an eye on achieving enterprise-wide visibility of operational dynamics. Armed with this new tool, engineers and managers of all departments can access real-time, multi-variable historical and forecast data in a variety of formats. This promises to promote data-based decision making and better allocations of resources. Engineering360 reviews best practices for assessing the benefits of a BI tool, outlines pricing strategies, and describes the three main steps for implementing a BI project. The article also examines the role cloud-based platforms may play in these software implementations.


Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Industrial Automation eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

1 comments; last comment on 06/20/2016
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