Geopolitical and pandemic influences continue to affect global industries through different channels such as logistic networks, supply chains, foreign investment, and commodity markets. Manufacturing industries are seeing major delays and increased freighting costs, combined with the increase in production demand.
With lock-in vendors, companies are unable to move data or applications outside of their single provider, and unable to use other programming or cloud computing systems to meet production demands. The major issue is the integration difficulty between services resources or cloud, and internal legacy systems. Mostly due to the lack of standard interfaces, open APIs, open standards for VM format, service deployment interfaces, and open formats for data interchange.
The best way to overcome the supply chain crisis is to shift to a vendor-independent platform and adapt to a better system, a vendor-independent platform that is universal and versatile. Having a heterogenous vendor or provider is very crucial, especially during the current supply chain crisis. When hardware, software, and/or service interfaces are bound to one technology, and more importantly, when the interface doesn’t provide backward or downward compatibility, earlier versions can’t be restored, and there are bigger risks during integrations of adaptions of new/order systems and solutions. Backward compatibility processors have the capacity to execute the same binary software instructions as their predecessors. This eliminates the need to procure new applications or operating systems, thus saving huge costs.
As an example, CODESYS is a leading manufacturer-independent IEC 61131-3 automation software for engineering control systems. It offers an integrated development environment for programming controller applications according to the international industrial standard. This helps manufacturers face the global supply crisis.
Ti2 partners with CODESYS to provide various automation software.
The CODESYS Development System is the key tool for convenient project engineering of IEC 61131-3 applications. The powerful functional scope of the system can be extended as needed with plug-ins for increased productivity or with function libraries for reusing code.
With the adaptable CODESYS Control runtime system, any kind of intelligent device is transformed into a complete IEC 61131-3 controller.
PLC manufacturers use a toolkit to port the CODESYS runtime system on their device and turn it into a CODESYS-compatible IEC 61131-3 PLC. In addition, SoftPLC systems are provided for immediate installation on standard platforms. Numerous options, such as OPC UA, Visualization, and SoftMotion, extend the functional scope.
The system allows for screen creation and animation in the integrated editor based on PLC variables, as well as the display on monitors of panel PLCs and industrial PCs, connected browsers, or directly in the IEC 61131-3 tool.
Independent Coding Platform
An independent coding platform with a standard-based system will open up possibilities for manufacturers, engineers, and other professionals in the industry to feed the demand that may be growing or pending in their pipeline.
Market viability, production, demand, and supply chains are the most essential elements in the manufacturing industry. It requires both horizontal and vertical progressions. What previously existed, must be improved, and what hasn’t been implemented, but now be delivered in a shorter span.
Instead of looking at the global supply chain crisis as a disruption, it might be a catalyst that is helping the industry accelerate and implement significant ramifications.
With vendor-independent platforms, manufacturers can better establish test-retest reliability (overtime), internal consistency (across items), inter-rater reliability (across different operators), and validity.
Versatility is important as one of the biggest challenges for engineers has been to unify the entire process of the system. Having a system that can unify different codes, deploy functions that they probably haven’t known before to expose its maximum capacity, and have a run-time license with only one single source of software that is compatible with the entire system is a key substitution or alternating solution.
With backward compatibility, engineers are also able to pick up the pieces of code that may or may not have caused any dysfunction within the system.
With different sets of PLCs, engineers and professionals create many complex differences in the system. Guaranteeing backward compatibility is the one thing that allows unified software management. In addition, an independent vendor will help prevent further supply chain crises within manufacturing production companies as it opens up opportunities to full, turnkey solutions that can run backward and forwards with an all-time, upgradeable, and scalable standards-based system.
Within the manufacturing, energy, and utility industry, especially, where strict compliance and standards are necessary, a universal product and system that are also standard-based will be needle-moving and will help companies stand out among competitors.
The global supply chain crisis is affecting almost all parts of the industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s unfixable.
Eventually, every company operating in Industry 4.0 either has to wait for delays and unprecedented changes or try new options. With Industry 5.0 paving the way, most companies will now require more agility to involve human elements and soft skills. The only way to adapt this cost-efficiently with automation is through a universal and independent coding platform with a more standard-based approach.
Lastly, having a backward-compatible system will allow companies to return to their predecessor system anytime, once the supply chain disruption is over.
Global supply crises, if it hasn’t already, are going to shift the market. To adapt, we need to focus on availability under good quality and compliance.
LCNC (Low-Code No-Code) Platforms
Very recently, due to arising disruptions, the LCNC platform or ‘Low-Code’ platform has also gained popularity. Although we believe there is a need for customised coding for different specific industries, the LCNC is proof that digitalisation factors have accelerated the elimination of extensive coding processes.
However, it is an undeniable truth that LCDPs (Low-code development platforms) are much more cost-efficient compared to the traditional vendor lock-in system.
Over 84% of business owners are using SaaS (Software as a Service) due to its low-code success (Forrester, 2019), but the strain on their IT development still requires many optimisations and work before it can facilitate large-scale manufacturing or production plants. It should be a viable option for smaller-scale projects.
With Independent Coding/Software Vendors, programming is made easier and more accessible. Often with lock-in vendors or traditional development, new engineers, system or other fields/departments won’t have all the necessary sets of coding methodologies and standards, tools, or web frameworks.
With complicated syntax and numerous lines of code, programming languages are always evolving, thus the drag-and-drop and SaaS systems that are evolving.
ISV or independent vendors are a great silver lining between detailed and customised programming capabilities and primer low code systems. With standard-based automation software providers, support and training are usually provided to help with the transfer of knowledge, R&D support, and/or customised integrations where necessary with a run-time license.
Ti2 is currently very focused on working with its global partners to secure stock and avoid long delay times in delivering products to their customers. Together with our trusted partners, we are here to provide solutions.
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Article inspired by ETEC, Forbes, Rockwell, SME, Elsevier, and Ti2.