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The Benefits of Embedded Software for Industrial Automation

By: Grant King - IndustrySearch Writer
24 June, 2015

I'll have a boot loader with kernels and a side order of systems-on chips, thanks. And go easy on the protocols. It's called embedded software and it's the fast fuel of the future for industrial automation.

You don't need to know how it works, or even what it is. All you need to know is that it does work and it allows you to adapt and update your operating systems on the run to keep ahead of your competition.

Consider the toaster oven

Why? Well, believe it or not, the humble toaster oven uses embedded software to control and adjust temperature and toasting times. In the past, toasters used expensive, unreliable temperature control components such as solenoids, thermostats and thermal fuses.

They were clunky and hard to replace. Not anymore. Embedded software has revolutionised toaster performance, allowing easy adjustment of temperature and time for better, more consistent results; even modifications can be made without replacing the whole system.

Now imagine your factory is that toaster oven

Yes, it's very simplistic, but it does give you the general idea. With embedded software you can control, adjust, and modify your factory hardware and systems quickly and easily for peak performance. And don't confuse embedded software with firmware.

While the two are similar, firmware controls each piece of hardware from an external, separate system, while embedded software is exactly what the name suggests: software installed and embedded in the hardware itself and controlled from within.

Turn your hardware into easyware

Some of your factory's hardware devices have a limited range of functions to perform each day. Others are more complex. Embedded software works in much the same way as a computer's operating system controls its software applications, adjusting and updating for maximum effect. It can control and enhance the functionality of each hardware device, often with little or no input from you or your technical staff.

Better performance, lower costs

These are the real facts you can embed from this article. Your business relies on automation, and industrial automation is forever evolving. Customers expect everything yesterday and that expectation will only grow as supply and demand becomes more sophisticated and instantaneous. Your ability to keep pace comes down to the quality of your performance. No matter how good your people are, they can't function at their peak with ineffective or outdated hardware.

If your hardware is able to move with the times quickly and efficiently, last longer and lower costs through easy maintenance, your business can not only keep up, but stay ahead.

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