Insight into innovation – a blueprint for the future intro

Attendees of the recently-held 2016 PROFIBUS and PROFINET Global Forum and the Automation Innovation Summit were inspired by an international roster of experts, learned about the role of Industrial Networks and innovation in their organisations, and also gained new insight into the urgency of using automation to improve productivity, writes Andrew Dummett.

PROFIBUS and PROFINET Global Forum: technical expertise from around the world

Mathew Dulcey and Paolo Silva from Procentec covered diagnostics and network maintenance strategies, while the audience gained insight into how Industry 4.0 will impact on manufacturing worldwide, thanks to Karsten Schneider, PI Chairman and Martin Mueller, Global VP of Automation at Phoenix Contact, who spoke about how his company is integrating the technology into its production, and the results of that integration.

For attendees looking for the next step up in process automation, networking may be the key, noted Karl Buettner, Marketing Manager at Endress+Hauser (Switzerland), who presented on the latest industrial network technologies, while Professor Frithjof Klasen from the Technical University of Cologne, and owner of network services company AIT, showed the progressive development of PROFINET in expansive modern networks, that can contain tens of thousands of devices.

The morning of the forum would not have been complete without representation from Australia, with Andrew Brown, Fortescue’s Lead Control Systems Engineer, providing a case study on how FMG’s Solomon Mines is utilising PROFIBUS and PROFINET in their operations.

Automation Innovation Summit: the how’s and whys of innovation

After a morning session full of information and inspiration from both local and international technical experts, attendees were treated to an in-depth analysis on innovation and Australia’s transition to a digital future.

Broaching themes like innovation will be key to Australian industries’ continuing competitiveness on the global stage, so how can government and industry stimulate innovation, and create a pathway for higher productivity, where do trends and technologies like automation, the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 fit into this, representatives from industry associations, academia, and government were on hand to debate these pressing issues during the afternoon session at the Automation Innovation Summit.

Organisations interested in taking a systematic approach to building an innovation culture heard from Professor Sam Bucolo from the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS), who presented on Design Thinking as a way to foster innovation. Professor Mark Dodgson from the University of Queensland gave an insight in critical stakeholder dependencies and contrasting practices in other global areas.

For their part, and representing and speaking to the engineers in the audience, Engineers Australia CEO Steve Durkin reflected on the critical role engineers will play in Australia’s industrial innovation, while Jennifer Conley from the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council (AAMC) emphasised the innovative possibilities within the local manufacturing industry.

From an SME point of view, Daniel Boland from the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand explained how small and medium sized businesses can achieve rapid growth and flexibility by leveraging innovation.

To complete the presentations, Karsten Schneider, global PI Chairman, Michael Bowne from PI North America and Michael Freyny, Executive General Manager at Siemens Australia contributed with their experiences as system and technology experts in the field of automation.

Podium Discussion: consensus on collaboration

Following the individual presentations, the representatives then engaged in a podium discussion facilitated by Professor Chris Aldrich from the Curtin University, WA. A key topic was the need for closer collaboration between academia, industry and government. International stakeholders compared the situation in Australia with their experiences back home.

The general consensus was that stronger guidance and long term vision was needed from the government at all levels. The presenters also agreed that Australia needs to maintain the viability of manufacturing and to improve productivity in the mining industry — to do so will require greater innovation and the adoption of the tools used in Europe and the Americas, namely IIoT and Industry 4.0.

In Conclusion

In explaining the ambitions behind the 2016 PROFIBUS and PROFINET Global Forum and the Automation Innovation Summit, Rafael Koenig, Chairman of the PROFIBUS and PROFINET Association of Australia (PAA) said that the event successfully connected technology leaders from around the globe with local technology suppliers, users, academia, and the automation and process control community.

At the same time, the event was able to leverage the international expertise to deliver real insights and action points for the local industry.

“The Automation Innovation Summit has given us a great starting point and flushed out viewpoints and needs for us in Australia,” said Mr. Koenig. “We can now build a network of relevant people and organisations, in order to continue contributing to the innovation process in Australia.”