The drivers behind Smart machines

Who and what are the drivers behind Smart Machines, and who decides how smart they need to be?
Smarter machines are integral to the success of Industry 4 is and IIoT. So, who and what are the drivers behind Smart Machines, and who decides how smart they need to be?


Introducing new technologies and components to machines to increase productivity is not new. They improve reliability and ease of use, simplify maintenance, and reduce energy consumption. This applies to both the mechanics and the control systems.


In manufacturing, change is often iterative, without pressure to become an early adopter of new technologies. But, the advent of IIoT and Industry 4, means seismic forces are operating. They have the potential to affect the business of both machine builders and users.


The new IIoT technologies and practices are evolving. Before a large-scale transition to smart machinery, the technologies need to prove themselves. Executives need a clear demonstration of returns before investing in improvements. Further, affected workers will need education. Inhibitors factors such as cyber-security concerns will also need to be overcome.


Drivers behind Smart Machines

Machine builders wanting to strengthen their market position will adopt new control systems. These allow them to capitalise on the potential of using distributed intelligence in machines. The new technologies will improve performance and efficiency, reducing downtime and energy consumption. This allows both machine builders and end-users to differentiate themselves from their competition. Those who fail to take any new action will also fail as the market transitions.

Supporting IIoT and Smart Machines represents a significant opportunity for machine builders. This is especially true in the areas of predictive maintenance and remote access. Partnerships with specialists in communications, IT, and software, will be critical success factors for achieving this.

Vision is also a defining characteristic of future manufacturing. Consider how mobile phones have developed. They now provide a wealth of functions and services, much of it unimaginable ten years ago. In the same way, manufacturing will change.

According to a Schneider Electric white paper, three principal drivers influence Smart Machine development. They are technology, consumer market trends, and end-user demands.


Innovation and lower costs are making new generations of equipment accessible. IIoT will drive continued improvements in communication devices, wireless and mobile networking. Improved CPUs and memory devices, and cloud storage will support increased digitisation. These will provide new sources of data from which to derive decision making information

Consumer market trends

New technology increases the expectation of machine operators and system users. It alters training approaches for both new and existing employees.

The internet will provide workers with access to production information in real-time. It is increasing the use of mobile and wearable devices to gain access to information at any location.

Machine operators expect devices (and machinery) to be “plug-and-play”. An interactive web mentality promotes the same mentality at work as at home. That smart machines and distributed control centres will collaborate in the same way.

End-user demands

End-user demands for ultimate flexibility will drive the way IIoT applications work. To accommodate these demands, the additional requirements need to be built into any smart machine design.

Machines will accommodate orders on a mass scale. The ability to manufacture customized products and release them quickly to market is also a key consideration. Production lines will need to be flexible enough to allow modification in real time.

Control of production costs and the improvement of production line performance are critical. This requires machinery that is more functional, flexible, connected and efficient. Ethernet-based networking of components and resources are key elements of smart machines.

Moving to open standards is a key enabler of adoption. They improve integration of systems, visibility and business control. The benefits include faster time to market, lower costs and less downtime. Business returns more profit, quality improves, energy use falls, and customisation increases.


Go to to 999Automation to download the white paper

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