Machine-tool automation has never been simple, but the systems and technologies that until quite recently had been focused on work cells and shops now comprise a universe of digitalized activity. The inputs determine an increasingly complex series of outputs, as well as new inputs. Some shops approach this expanding world at a functional level — programming machines and setting up robotics to perform defined tasks, but all the while feeding data and drawing analytic information from the vast storehouse of Cloud-based resources.
Other manufacturers take a more holistic approach, selecting manufacturing systems that integrate with and expand information networks, building production sequences that interact with supply chains. Ultimately, the two approaches are the same — structuring operations that perform and inform.