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Future Machines

Dec. 3, 2013
How Technology Pushes Machine Builders and Integrators to Design Smarter Machines, and Why Processes Have Become Better and More Efficient
About the Author

Katherine Bonfante is senior digital editor for Control and Control Design

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Samsung Smart Watch commercial. It shows people and cartoon characters communicating and getting data out of their wrist watches. For years, this futuristic technology had been fiction more than anything else, but now thanks to Samsung and technological advances, this is a reality. 

This commercial makes me think how far our machines have come, and how much more advanced they will become in the future.

SEE ALSO: Machine Automation: The Future of the Past

Not long ago, our machines' control panels consisted of walls of buttons, switches, cables and tiny analog displays that spit out information on one specific process. Now control panels are a lot more condensed, automated, and they even come as digital apps capable of emailing statistics or warnings to us when machines malfunction.

Sure, we complain that newer technology complicates our lives, but usually only while we learn the technology and master it.

How complicated our jobs would still be if technology hadn't changed. We still would collect data on foot and with clipboards, pens and paper. Newer technology performs these tasks in minutes, when before, a machine operator spent hours collecting data.

Technology has pushed our machine builders and integrators to design smarter machines, and our processes have become better and more efficient. Take our article "The Machine of 2020," by executive editor Jim Montague. He reports how machine builders have started planning the machine of the future. For machine builders, staying on top of evolving technology and customers' demands is essential.

"In the next 10 years, we'll see machine controls going to more on-the-fly adaptability and completely automated reconfiguration," Robert Hattin, former president of Edson Packaging Machinery in Hamilton, Ontario, told Montague.

Read more on how machine innovators are a step ahead of our future machine needs and wants by reading this article.

Our previous managing editor and now chief editor for sister publication Plant Services, Mike Bacidore, wrote that when builders design industrial machines, they've been imagining what our industrial needs would be like in the future.

In the article "A Future Built on the Past," Bacidore features Sunnen Products, and reports how the company provides customers excellent service by looking into the future. Sunnen's corporate mission is to improve the performance of their customers, and they look into remote diagnostics and lean manufacturing to improve their offerings.

The machines we've seen in movies such as "Star Trek," "Blade Runner," "Minority Report," "I, Robot," and even the cartoon "The Jetsons," might not be a reality yet, but every day we get one step closer to achieving those levels of advanced technology.

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