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PLCs and the IoT – How Will They Evolve?

One of the most intriguing things about watching a business is the evolution that inevitably takes place. It’s a fantastic bit of truth to know that nothing will ever stat the same. Technology will grow stronger, companies will seek new ways of attaining customers, and a species will usually adapt to the conditions of its environment.

 

EVOLUTION AFFECTS ALL THINGS

Darwin first wrote about this concept in The Origin of Species. His idea that humans evolved from apes to develop things like speech and language patterns is quite impressive; ditto for his studies in the Galapagos. Species that were separated by geography often changed to meet the demands of their surroundings by developing new functions and appendages. Those that didn’t ceased to exist.

 

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Evolution applies to all things – if you don’t adapt, you won’t survive. Plain and simple, and with more advanced solutions like PLCs and the Internet of Things emerging every day, the foreseen evolutionary possibilities are quite astounding.

 

SOME OF THE BASICS

The sensor-based technology of the IoT connects machinery, store equipment and other devices, but it has already undergone certain phases of evolution to include new branches like the IIoT, allowing change and communication to occur in factory settings. The machines and equipment that keep operations afloat can ultimately communicate with each other to share important and sensitive information with executives and managers.

 

This data typically offers insight into what requires immediate attention. Whether it’s a defective part or function that’s headed for trouble, management receives the information and decides on the next steps.

 

We’re also witnessing IoT technology change to meet the demands of the automotive world. Driverless trucks, buses and other vehicles will soon be rolling along our city streets. Cars will no longer be controlled by human drivers, eliminating the risk of error and keeping populations safe in the process. Company fleets will also be computer-controlled, ensuring deliveries use less time and energy and always arrive on time.

 

A WHOLE LOT MORE

But the IoT is slated to grow into much more from here. Some suggest the IoT will evolve to encompass the medical and healthcare industries. By 2020, for example, we’re likely to witness nearly four billion tracking devices in regional hospitals designed to assist with patient care. Doctors can monitor patients and even administer therapeutic treatments and medications remotely. If an emergency occurs, the doctor in charge can order emergency vehicles and other services to ensure a person survives. All this and more can occur from simple wearable devices that read signals through sensors.

 

We’re also likely to witness the extension of data security through cloud centers, or “cloudlets” as they’re usually called. These centers, while small, can house large streams of data for businesses, ensuring sensitive information is never tampered with or compromised.

 

One source jokes that the IoT should be renamed the “IoE,” which stands for “Internet of Everything.” The fact that the IoT will be plugged into every aspect of our society suggests not only massive change, but worldwide dependence on its abilities and features.

 

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PLCs – WHAT ARE THEY, AND HOW WILL THEY CHANGE?

We know a lot about the IoT, but what about PLCs? Let’s start with a brief explanation…

PLC stands for “programmable logic controller.” It’s an industrial computer that has been programmed to monitor and control factory applications, such as assembly lines and robotic plant equipment.  How will they change over time? Originally designed for the automotive industry, PLCs can now be found in virtually every manufacturing plant, suggesting they’ve adapted to meet growing production needs, but they’re continuing to grow from there. Currently, PLCs are enjoying new perks such as faster speeds, memory upgrades and more convenient sizes.

Over the years, factories have largely employed relay panels and timers to control operations, but PLCs are continuing to replace them. Their programming language (known as ladder logic) has been simplified over time, and is thus becoming more attractive to executives.

 

Additionally, PLCs have been upgraded into new forms (like the IEC 61131-3 suite), and many argue the next step involves the fusion of PLC and PAC (programmable automation controller) functions. PLCs are also slated to improve in the field of communication, ensuring plant employees and managers can work with each other more closely, and earn stronger access to important data.

 

CONCLUSION

The changes we’ve witnessed thus far and will likely witness in the future are proof of the evolution that occurs in business technology. That which does not evolve or adapt will almost certainly die out, and the changes we incur can keep our society strong and moving forward.

 

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