In today’s smart factories, cyber physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual representation of the physical world, and even make decisions. The traditional structure of the automation pyramid and the distinction between information and operations technologies are blurring.
To get an idea of the importance of sensors to the factory of the future, head to upstate New York to General Electric’s sprawling assembly plant in Schenectady, NY, where the company makes sodium-nickel batteries for cell-phone towers and other applications.
You can’t accuse Volkswagen’s Dirk Voigt of having his head in the clouds—he’ll take it as a compliment. The head of digital production at VW, Voigt and a team of manufacturing and IT pros are developing an industrial cloud computing system to amalgamate production data from more than 120 factories. The objective: greater efficiency and lower costs.