November/December 2013
Automation Update

Automation by the Numbers

$7.88 billion

According to a radio-frequency identification (RFID) sector survey by IDTechEx Research, the RFID market will increase from $6.98 billion in 2012 to $7.88 billion in 2013. It will reach $23.4 billion in 2020. The market includes tags, readers, and software and services for RFID cards, labels, fobs, and all other form factors for both passive and active RFID.


The market for RFID has grown steadily despite the economic meltdown due to the diverse nature of its applications, from tagging retail apparel to transport ticketing to animals. Governments drive most RFID orders as they improve efficiency (transit systems), safety (passport tagging), and protective industries (animal tagging). Since 2000 there has been a strong push to use passive RFID to improve supply chain visibility, with investment in new RFID technologies, new standards, and much publicity. As with most new technologies, initially some aspects were overly hyped and demand was not in sync with capacity, but at the beginning of 2010 the industry emerged from the hype cycle and entered a period of rapid growth and profitability for some. There are different rates of growth for different applications and many challenges-but opportunities still exist. In total, IDTechEx finds that 5.9 billion tags will be sold in 2013, versus 4.8 billion in 2012.


At the Audi factory in Gyor, Hungary, Siemens constructed a fully automated high-bay warehouse that acts as a central body buffer and occupies a key position within the production logistics of the plant. Siemens developed the controller of the storage and retrieval machines and the conveyor system for the body buffer on the basis of its Simatic S7 controllers. The bodies are conveyed by means of 350Siemens electric motors together with frequency converters. The integrated-drive system has energy-saving motors and can recover and store kinetic energy. This means that it captures braking energy, stores it, and makes it available to other drives. The result: fewer undesirable network perturbations and lower power consumption. In addition, Siemens set up an RFID system that uniquely identifies each body stored in the body buffer and on its way through production.


The PROFI Interface Center (PIC) has completed a "wall of fame" in its test lab that features PROFINET devices it has tested and certified. The PIC is part of the global network of competence centers, training centers, and test labs established by PI, the umbrella organization responsible for PROFIBUS and PROFINET internationally. Certification of PROFINET devices is required through PI. This ensures interoperability between products, and the labs can support device vendors in case of conformance questions.

Manager of the PIC, Torsten Paulsen, commented, "We created this installation to feature all of the devices we have certified over the years and put them to use as a 'real world' test bed and reference network. We currently have 54 nodes and add more constantly." A wide range of devices are incorporated onto the wall including remote input/output, drives, vision systems, human-machine interfaces, wireless, embedded diagnostics, infrastructure, and security devices. To date, more than 500 different PROFINET-enabled products have been tested and certified worldwide.

$40 million

Endress+Hauser is set to serve its customers in North and South America with more U.S.-made products. The Swiss specialist for measurement engineering and process automation has invested more than $40 million in expanding its plants for flow, level, and pressure measurement engineering in Greenwood, Ind. Producing, assembling, and calibrating at sites all over the world is one of Endress+Hauser's central business strategies. One important factor for this concept to work is globally uniform quality standards. The systems for calibrating flowmeters now include the latest technology for gas calibration.

$2.765 million

LockRepresentative David Price (D-N.C.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, announced that ABB Inc. has been awarded a $2.765 million Department of Energy (DOE) grant to develop technology to help the energy sector enhance its cybersecurity. The project is one of 11 recently announced DOE grants totaling more than $30 million. ABB will lead a project to develop a system that allows electrical substation devices to work together to validate the integrity of communications along a power distribution network.

The grant awards are a part of the Obama administration and Congress' commitment to protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from cybersecurity threats.