Is 5G Ready for Deployment in the Real World?

Until the launch of 5G, every previous generation of mobile phone technology was primarily intended to improve the operation of the handset. It was not until 4G technology was adopted in 2008 that real smartphone capability was enabled and 4G mobile broadband led to the development of smartphone apps, a proliferation of multimedia and streaming services, and high-speed internet access on-the-go.

The installation today of 5G networks marks the first time that a new generation of mobile technology has been built around the needs of machines and systems rather than of handset users. The telecoms industry’s plan for 5G envisaged technical breakthroughs in three main parameters – latency, reliability and determinism; the density of connections; bandwidth, and speed of data transfer.

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Choosing the Right Valve for Hydronic Flow Optimization

It’s important to choose the right valve in a hydronic system for hydronic flow optimization and there are a variety of reasons why this is true. For starters, Hydronic systems are highly interdependent systems. Each system component will interact with one another and impact performance. Valves are the critical devices that control heat transfer in hydronic systems.

Proper valve sizing and selection involves looking at the complete system. Valves not sized and selected correctly lead to undesirable outcomes not only at the heart transfer device but also the overall mechanical system.

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What is Obsolescence in Manufacturing? Tips for Avoiding the Pitfalls

Obsolescence is an unavoidable part of any manufacturing endeavor. No matter how well your company has planned, some factors are more challenging to consider in advance than others.

In the era of Industry 4.0, new technology continues to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. Industry professionals view it as the latest industrial revolution, hence the Industry 4.0 moniker. Big data and computing technologies are the front-runners in innovations proving value to manufacturers. It is more crucial now than ever to remain on the leading edge of new technology. Upgrading equipment to provide greater efficiencies will provide a greater return on the investment.

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Redefining the Boundaries of Automation

Modern automation systems go beyond the confines of the physical machines on the factory floor. According to Deloitte Insights, smart factories can not only operate within the four walls of a factory but can also connect to a global network of similar production systems, and even to the digital supply network.

Though factories may be distributed rather than centralized, modern industrial operations software provides a centralized environment to rapidly build industrial applications. This can support engineers, managers and staff throughout an industrial business to improve plant operations and act upon information independent of factory location.

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Augmented Reality Tools: A Digital Bridge for the Skill Gap

As a new generation of technicians begins to step up, plant management can no longer rely on workers’ long-nurtured abilities to detect sights and sounds in the field. Those skills will come with time, but to accomplish continual improvements to safety, productivity and efficiency, organizations need to provide field technicians with tools such as augmented reality (AR) to bridge the gap and accelerate skill development. AR is already moving beyond the buzz and delivering value to organizations. The difference between flashy digital transformation technology and practical value to business is in the strategy.

Prepare a strategy to get the most practical value from AR technology. Adopters should look for AR solutions that integrate with existing plant and operations technology (OT) systems that provide three key benefits: situational awareness, IoT data integration and live remote assistance. Building a strategy around these elements helps organizations implement with ease and achieve fast return on investment (ROI) through practical AR applications to their operations.

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How to Improve Electrical Maintenance with Predictive Tests

If you are responsible for managing your plant’s electrical power system and maintenance plan, there are four predictive maintenance tests that should be incorporated into an overall maintenance program. These tests can reduce the need for offline services, improve system performance, reduce the risk of system failure and help optimize budgeted expenditures.

These predictive maintenance tests can be performed while system are online. They are non-destructive, non-invasive and examine electrical equipment under normal operating conditions. Ideally, you should coordinate these tests between planned outages so the resulting data can be used to inform and help prioritize offline service needs.


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Five Tips for Effectively Drawing Electrical Schematics

Every piece of industrial automation will have schematics (we hope!) These drawings communicate design intent from the engineer to the assembler, troubleshooter and person doing maintenance. With pages showing power distribution, input/output (I/O), and safety circuits, a well-organized print set can be invaluable for the life of the equipment. Knowing how important these are, it’s surprising how few resources are available for a professional to learn how to create schematics.

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Five Tips for Selecting the Correct Process Valve for the Job

Many times, the choice of valve type – ball, butterfly, gate, angle seat, or solenoid – rests on installed base or tradition. For example, a water treatment facility tends to use butterfly and gate valves for cost effective throughput. Some applications fall into a gray area where multiple valve types could fulfill the application’s requirements. In these cases, there is not always a right answer or a clear preference for industrial process valve selection.

Below are five tips and tricks to help determine which process valve is most suitable based on a variety of parameters. The comparison between valve types is intended to be a guideline for most general-purpose applications and may not apply to more unique or extreme conditions.

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Improving Machine Performance and Reliability With Predictive Maintenance

Few other industrial environments can match the diverse and difficult operating conditions found across the food and beverage processing industries, which can have an adverse impact on the machinery used on the factory floor and also on overall productivity.

With rising energy and labor costs, there is a need to optimize equipment reliability and to maximize uptimes so many operations are looking to maximize equipment output by extending the mean-time-between-failure and solving challenging application problems.

Reactive maintenance can be up to four times more expensive than planned maintenance, so many operations have moved to preventative maintenance strategies. Instead of carrying out repairs following a failure, regular checks and interventions are scheduled.

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Industrial Controllers: Past, Present, Future

Since the advent of the programmable logic controller (PLC), automation controllers of all kinds have made their way into industrial applications, including programmable automation controllers (PACs) and today’s edge programmable industrial controllers (EPICs). Users have many options in terms of cost, footprint, input/output (I/O) density, fieldbus compatibility, communication, programming options, and processing speed with competition among vendors looking to establish supremacy.

While it’s generally true diversity is healthy for the market, it also can be a source of frustration for engineers and end users. Selecting a control platform is often a long-term investment and carries related overhead like training and support contracts. Decision-makers want the reassurance they are putting their money to work in the right way.

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