As automation projects become increasingly complex, integrators are taking different approaches to help manufacturers navigate the terrain. They can help bridge technology and talent gaps.
Moving from islands of automation to increasingly connected systems, automation projects have become more complex, with a broader scope that involves many systems beyond the production line. Manufacturers are looking to streamline work, condense technologies and use networks and virtualization to get more out of their production infrastructure. But the rapid pace of technology change and decades of staff downsizing often leave them straining to keep up and looking for help.
In many cases, control system integrators are stepping up to the challenge, helping manufacturers navigate this new and often confusing terrain. For the integrators, there appear to be two distinct business models: Either go wide or go deep.
Though many integrators remain focused on the traditional control system basics of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and human-machine interfaces (HMIs), as well as the links to IT systems, another group has chosen to…