So what were the big issues in manufacturing over the past year. As I looked over our coverage, I was surprised to see an unexpected trend emerge. It was the blending of PLM into design and manufacturing software, nor was it the rising importance of the digital twin. Not cyber security, not IoT, not robotics. Not even 5G.

The overriding theme was automation and the workforce. The issues were varied. How will companies cover for retiring knowledge workers? Are Millennials and Generation Z ready to take over the plant? Do we have enough train workers to run smart manufacturing technology?

Check out these stories to see the details of the challenges and the industry’s readiness to meet these challenges.

 Automation Suppliers Back OPC UA 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: OPC Foundation)

 OPC UA TSN looks to leverage gigabit Ethernet bandwidth and Time Sensitive Networking to deliver open networking solutions for smart factories.

Free E-Book: The Landscape of Industrial Manufacturing and Warehouse Robots 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control

(Image source: Southwest Research Institute)

It’s cobots 101: In this e-book we’re going to clear up the differences between traditional manufacturing robots and collaborative robots.

Prepping the Workforce for Smart Automation 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Applied Manufacturing Technologies)

Companies can ensure successful deployment of automation by getting buy-in from the workforce and offering retraining. Without the buy-in, workers won’t use the technology.

3 Challenges Collaborative Robots Need to Overcome 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: TUV Rheinland)

As the market for collaborative robots expands, the industry faces challenges in developing safety regulations as well as some other key areas. The three changes are safety, security, and staffing.

Only 5% of Mid-Size Manufacturers Are Implementing Industry 4.0 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: BDO)

A new survey finds, in spite of competitive pressure, mid-size manufacturers are late in their build-out of smart manufacturing technology.

Trade Tensions Disrupt Supply Chains 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
 (Image source: Fictiv)

With trade tariffs escalating – particularly with China – manufacturers are seeking alternative hardware supplies, often shifting to US suppliers.

Rise of the Augmented Worker 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Autmentir)

 At the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing Show yesterday, Chris Kuntz of Augmentir explained how augmented reality and artificial intelligence are changing how manufacturing workers learn their jobs.

Manufacturers Turn to Automation to Combat Labor Shortages 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source:

Manufacturing report reveals companies and their suppliers are experiencing prosperity while also facing labor challenges. For many, the solution is greater automation.

(Image source:

Retiring Knowledge Workers May Get Replaced with Technology 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
 (Image source: Catalyic)

 As Baby Boomers retire and take their knowledge with them as they leave manufacturing facilities, their replacements may be hardware and software run by kids.

Is Generation Z Ready for Plant-Floor Technology? 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Leading2Lean)

Leading2Lean’s Manufacturing Index reveals that Generation Z is interested in manufacturing, but the industry needs to fight for the young generation’s attention and participation.

Solve Process Problems Before Adding Smart Automation 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Applied Manufacturing Technologies)

 Companies struggle when they add smart manufacturing tools to faulty processes. Process problems have to be solved before the benefits of advanced manufacturing and be reaped.

Here Comes the Tech Future for Design and Manufacturing 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Siemens)

Siemens PLM has changed its name to Siemens Digital Industries Software to reflect its wider technology range. Design News sat down with Tony Hemmelgarn, the CEO of the newly named company, to talk about the expansion of industrial technology.

“Batch-of-One” and “Ease-of-Use” – The Top Keywords at PackExpo 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Emerson)

The twin themes of this year’s PackExpo packaging tradeshow were ease-of-use and mass customization. These long sought-after goals are here today, and they were on display at PackExpo.

Someday We May Make Robots Out of Smaller Robots 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Georgia Tech /  Rob Fwelt

 New research from the Georgia Institute of Technology is pointing to a future where we may use simple robots as the components for more complex and highly-adaptable ones.

Robot Democratization: A Machine for Every Manufacturer 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Universal Robots)

Robots are cheaper and easier to use. They’re within reach for small manufacturers. Add to that a tight job market, and robot deployments are moving down the manufacturing chain.

Manufacturing Contraction: How Will It Affect Advanced Manufacturing? 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: ISM)

We’re two months into a US manufacturing contraction. What will that mean for smart manufacturing investments and jobs? BDO’s Eskander Yavar takes on these questions.

Industrial 5G: Impact on Factory Automation 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control
(Image source: Siemens)

Automation and control applications are sharply in focus as one of primary beneficiaries of new 5G wireless network technologies.

The Industry 4.0 Blueprint Is Being Rewritten by Startups 

Startups are leading the charge towards Industry 4.0. But that doesn’t mean established companies can’t also adapt.

Edge computing key industrial automation trend in 2020 

manufacturing, top manufacturing stories, automation and control

(Image source: Industrial Internet Consortium)

 IoT communication solutions are evolving toward edge computing architectures where edge nodes and gateways provide connectivity between IoT devices, subsystems and data centers.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!


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