Continued growth in popularity of Internet of Things technologies is redefining the parameters of industrial automation. In addition to conventional PLC-based machine automation with low networking capabilities, new generation-based automation has made possible the development of Smart Factories. Connection of multiple or all devices to the cloud, combined with the application of intelligent software, real time control and monitoring, and big data analysis have all contributed to optimization of product design, production process, and quality assurance. Results include higher throughput, lower defect rate, and enhanced competitiveness, all based on intelligent automation.
According to studies and forecasts by IHS and Echelon, 2025 will see 15 billion or more Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) installations worldwide, with the share of IIoT installations doubling to 32% in 2016 from 16% in 2011. Upcoming manufacturing goals, including widespread implementation of Smart Factories, have been collectively referred to by some as Industry 4.0.