Professor Nordhaus, the 19th century pioneer, calculated that fewer than 30 per cent of goods and services consumed at the end of the 20th century were variants of goods and services produced earlier. This scenario is repeating circa 2018.
The ‘blue flame’ revolution launched by the government has provided 61.2 million LPG connections to households. What is important for us is to recognise the role of instrumentation/communication and automation in the supply chain for LPG. Without the deployment of automation, achieving efficiencies brought into play would have been impossible. Very similar interventions of automation prevail in transportation, health care, civic services like, domestic water distribution across the world.
In the sixties, deployment of air - conditioning in high rise buildings was facilitated by automation. Bela Liptak, a visionary engineer, introduced basic principles of automation to design the air-conditioning in the ‘Sears-Roebuck’ (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. The role of air-conditioning in increasing human productivity needs no emphasis.
This can be substantiated with many examples. But the role of automation technologies in milk management/distribution systems or urban city water management/distribution systems is worth a reference. The development of sensors, DCS/PLC/ SCADA systems, control elements, understanding the process algorithms and the use of IT, leads this change. The penetration of automation is still far from its optimising influence in every walk of life. Development of new technology was used by the industry to its benefit by increased process efficiency, operational management thereby, enabling competitiveness. But in today’s context, automation touches people’s lives a lot more and in a direct dramatic fashion. Examples are smart mobile phones and apps that suit today’s fast pace of life.
IIoT, the Industrial Internet of Things, is the next revolutionary disruptive change into this world of automation, making the scope of automation bigger than before. With AI, Data Analytics, simulation, Machine Learning and intuitive computing, IIoT will change the world we live in, into another level of human progress. An ISA/IFS Research Study in industry for penetration of IIoT reveals that there is an increase of 17% in companies collecting IoT data on production lines. Companies monitoring their customer equipment saw a 10% increase, potentially signaling transformational approaches to field service management. Despite the excitement that IIoT has created, companies integrating their ERP systems with IIoT show some reluctance to embrace this technology.
Yet, more than merely business enterprises, it is the government and civil society that is pushing for faster adoption of technology. Politics in national context and globalisation of world trade has compelled countries to leverage technology. Societal missions, such as, ‘India@75’ (a vision for India 75 years after independence), ‘Society 5’ (of Japan) inspired by Industry 4.0 of Germany, are an indication that automation has come to stay.