2016 has been a year of technological transformation, and we have seen the emergence of several trends this year that we expect to carry on into 2017 and beyond, particularly in how automation software is deployed and used. Here is our list of emerging automation software trends that will continue to shape HMI/SCADA for some time.
Cloud-Based software deployment
Software across all industries is beginning to offer cloud licensing and maintenance options, and automation software is no exception. This offers an excellent opportunity for machine builders and system integrators to develop cloud-based SCADA/HMI solutions and increase the value they offer by providing remote configuration, training, troubleshooting, and support services.
Flexibility to add third party modules and widgets
While some SCADA/HMI software has gone open sourced, others have taken a hybrid approach to the DiY model. By adding in the flexibility to build your own modules and widgets for HMI and SCADA screens, software like InduSoft Web Studio offers the ability to add third party utilities to applications without sacrificing the support and updates of a robust and stable automation software platform.
The ability to communicate with new devices, like intelligent sensors and robotics
Automation has expanded to include so much more than PLCs and controllers. Intelligent sensors, robotics, cloud-based databases, and more are redefining what a modern system looks like in terms of hardware and software. Automation software has been growing to meet the demands of new technology, with more native communication options that make it possible to get the intelligent devices of the IoT communicating with PLCs, robots, and more. SCADA/HMI software can now provide a hub of information that allows disparate systems and devices to share date with one another, or with databases on the cloud or in the network.
Support for Augmented Reality
2016 was a banner year for Augmented Reality, with popular games and devices like Snapchat’s Spectacle. As the technology takes off, more SCADA/HMI software companies are beginning to build in support for applications that make use of augmented reality. InduSoft Web Studio was able to get a head start on developing AR applications with its Google Glass demos.
Focused solutions for industries
While there is still demand for solutions that are built from the ground up, many companies are turning toward HMI/SCADA products that offer the ability to customize pre-built applications quickly. This allows them to get new systems up and running in a fraction of the time, and often enables them to include features that might have been out of scope and budget for an application developed from scratch. To help offer users the ability to develop solutions quickly, InduSoft Web Studio includes templates for Business Intelligence, Andon, and PackML solutions.
Perennial Concern: Security, Security, Security
Security is a concern for SCADA/HMI software that only increases as more devices are connected via internet. This year showed us what a virus spread through IoT devices could do. The Mirai virus helped enable a massive DDoS attack that shuttered large parts of the internet. Security is the main reason we always suggest ensuring that your software is on the most recent versions and is supported by the manufacturer. In addition, any device that connects to the internet should be secured as much as possible. IT and OT must strengthen their collaboration in order to protect these intelligent systems, as cyber-attacks will only become more prevalent.