Mouli Cohen on Automation Innovation: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed

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Automation Innovation: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Headed

Conservative, stodgy, slow to adapt and change… These terms have all been applied to manufacturing companies and the suppliers that provide automation products and services for them.

International investor and philanthropist Mouli Cohen discussed today innovative new technologies, factors that have had the greatest impact on automation, and what he sees on the horizon.

“To be sure, there are plenty of pundits who can point to reasons for concern about the state of innovation in the automation industry,” Cohen said. “But I believe innovation and technology adaptation are alive and well in the industry.”

When asked what advances in state-of-the-art automation may be on the horizon, Cohen listed a number of areas from commercial high-tech markets that have advanced automation, including:

PC drivers – “Over the last 10 years, the most significant innovations in automation have come from incorporating PC technologies into industrial devices,” Cohen said, citing the fact that it is much more common now to see industrial versions of floating point processors, DRAM, solid-state storage devices, and fast Ethernet chip sets in industrial control products. “This has enabled vendors and end-users to develop more powerful software with the flexibility and usability of PC-based control systems that can run on real-time operating systems for reliability.”

Networking impact – Many cite networking in general as a significant innovative technology, says Cohen. “Controlling safety has been one of the innovative technologies with a huge impact today. With programmable safety control, there was a paradigm shift. That market is still very much growing since there are instant productivity savings. With networking, there are even greater benefits.”

Integration capabilities - “Advances in integration capabilities, remote access, the intelligence in the devices and assets themselves, plus the unification of previously competing communication protocols, is contributing to the users’ ability to optimize their assets. While devices have become far more intelligent over the last decade, during which microprocessors have penetrated deeply into the world of field devices and provide a wealth of diagnostic and operations information, the real value of this information only materializes once a customer is able to access and use it,” says Cohen.

Energy Star – Cohen sees new technologies in operator panels simplifying training and experience partly though incorporating onboard multimedia. He expects to see something similar to an “Energy Star” rating for machines based on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). “Whether looked at for environmental impact or due to depleting traditional energy resources, society is and will be affected by energy consumption,” Cohen says. “With manufacturing consuming arguably one third of all energy produced, there will be a lot of attention paid to how automation technology can better manage energy consumption in a manufacturing environment.”

About Mouli Cohen
Mr. Cohen is a successful entrepreneur who has founded and developed successful ventures in the biotechnology, high technology, digital media and entertainment sectors. He has balanced his success in business with extensive philanthropic activities. Over the years he has supported children's charities, food programs, medical research, and the arts as well as education projects both in the US and abroad.

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