By Derrick Penner.
The industrial workplace has been changing since the first manually operated machines were automated with electronic controls. Those controls have become increasingly sophisticated, thanks to advances in technology that have made them ever more intelligent. Here are five things driving industrial innovation.
Devices to detect such things as temperature or size have long been essential to automation, but the extent to which technology has shrunk sensors in size and cost has allowed industrial users to put more of them into single machines to collect information such as sound and vibration, and allow for more sophisticated control.
Moore’s law, the observation that the computing power of central-processing-units doubles every 18 months to two years, has led to the development of small, powerful microprocessors capable of reading and interpreting signals from networks of sensors in machinery, then controlling those machines with extreme precision.
Internet of things, IoT:
The ability to link multiple sensors and multiple microprocessors wirelessly with a central control is central to what is sometimes referred to as Industry 4.0, in which machines are able to communicate with each other to control processes, detect problems and correct each other.
Application programme interfaces or APIs:
Software-speak for common protocols in writing programs that allow different and disparate systems to be put together and communicate with one another.
While they don’t come without a debate over whether they intrude on the privacy of the individual, wearable devices allow for real-time communication with workers to warn them of unsafe conditions in a hazardous workplace such as a mine or give supervisors a view of how well a work plan operates in reality.