Crises have a way of shining a light on outdated or problematic modes of doing things, especially in hindsight—but sometimes as they’re ongoing as well. The pandemic caused by COVID-19 provides an excellent example.
As automation production went global, select areas became key production hubs. This centralized production, once thought to buoy process control and producer-consumer dynamics, is now cast differently against the backdrop of a worldwide virus because of its dependence on single-sourced production, which creates bottlenecks and supply chain disruption. But even absent the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, decentralized production has been floated as the future of automation—for its ability to adjust accordingly to shifting disruptions.
Where Centralized Production Wavers
The pandemic we’re in has revealed some harsh truths. For most of the world’s countries, their various production deficiencies have been laid bare. The wide gap between PPE supply and demand has been an all-too-telling benchmark of those inadequacies. And the pandemic isn’t overly unique in its ability to put stops on production and supply chain. Production, even technological access, can face disruption in the event of political friction between countries.
For industries, it makes sense for the shift to decentralized production to continue. In fact, on the whole, the technological framework is already there. With automation already scaled to many industries, and internet connectivity highly available, a one-source production site loses its sheen. Flipping production lines from universal, single-sourced to localized, multi-sourced is not only feasible—it’s a ready-made shift technologically.
What It Will Take
To become signature on a smaller scale, decentralized production will need some key prerequisites to be met. For full effectiveness, individual plants will have to adopt automation that enables remote control production. Then, a redundant, stable connection will need to be made so that remote control can happen from virtually any location worldwide. Finally, data will have to be arranged in a way that’s widely available. Cloud-based applications lend themselves to this task already. With this on-demand circulation and distribution of data, a full-fledged remote control system for the plant can commence.
Outside of the orbit of this immediate crisis, decentralized production would help assure key products would remain produced, even if things look unsure. This style of production could more readily brace for and respond to natural disasters, political embargoes and trade disagreements, and transport restrictions. Decentralized production would be a buffer to local entities from fixed, extraneous forces, not necessarily ensuring full autonomy—but improving production and response all the same.
To see what your company’s future in automation holds, contact Revere Control Systems. We offer well-integrated control system solutions for industry, and have extensive crossover expertise for a variety of applications. To learn more about what all we can do, along with what’s going on in automation, keep returning to our blog.