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Our Top Technology Trends for 2017

Deon McHatton, (8 min read)

We love technology of all shapes and sizes. Here we share some of the technology trends we’ll be watching in 2017.

PLCs with embedded Windows operating system

The new CompactLogix 5480 PLC from Rockwell Automation will be available in 2017. Suitable for mid-size to large applications, this PLC features inbuilt Windows operating system to support applications such as analytics, data gathering and predictive computations.

Out of this world resources

The next technology trend is advancement for the resources space, private company Moon Express has been granted permission to launch a commercial mission to the moon in 2017 to explore the extraction of the Moon’s abundant valuable resource, water. Moon Express CEO Bob Richards has said ‘water is the oil of the solar system and the moon has become a gas station in the sky … ‘

Manufacturing Technology

With 4 out of 5 people now using their phones to shop and retailers looking to the IoT to track real-time shopping behaviour and send tailored offers to customers, manufacturers are feeling the impact of consumer’s expectation of faster, frictionless shopping.


This demand is driving manufacturers to re-evaluate logistics, adopt last mile delivery systems and, establish high tech warehouse and distribution centres closer to where their consumers are (also known as ‘nearshoring’).


This is driving high adoption of advanced supply chain technology to deliver efficient order fulfilment. IBIZ World reports that the online shopping industry will be a major source of employment growth over the coming years, with warehouse and distribution coordinators especially sought after.


An interesting space to watch from a technology perspective is movement of marijuana from the black market to legalised medical use in some states of US. Advanced product tracking technology, similar to that used in the pharmaceutical and baby formula industries, is providing full traceability via unique RFID tags to prevent illegally grown product entering the market and similarly, the diversion from the legal industry to the black market.

Closer to home, we see Sundrop Farms have transformed agriculture by growing Tomato’s in the barren landscape surrounding Port Augusta without fossil fuels. Sundrop Farms have successfully implemented pioneering greenhouse technology, right on our doorstep.

3D printing

Now while this is not new, the technology has come leaps and bounds and costs have decreased. In a recent Forbes report, “7 ways 3D printing is making manufacturing more competitive” it claims that 71.1% of US manufacturers have already adopted 3D printing, 52% expect it will be used for high volume production within 3-5 years and 22% predict it will have a disruptive effect on supply chains. With printing in materials such as graphene now possible, uses are broadening with increase strength, flexibility and conductivity. Uses in prototyping and to meet increasingly unique customer requirements are driving adoption of this technology.

Recently, Stratasys and Siemens announced a formal partnership to integrate Siemens’ Digital Factory solutions with Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions. The solutions are suitable for large scale manufacturers and designed to deliver robust, repeatable and reliable operational performance.

Digital Twins

Process Online reports that Digital twins will help manufacturers make their products right the first time, without failures and recalls and help development and support teams to share the same knowledge about the product, regardless of location.


Dr Michael Grieves from the University of Michigan believes that the “digital twins will move from an interesting concept, to a critical component of an enterprise wide closed loop product lifecycle.”

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Gartner has reported that Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which have long captured the imagination of gamers, will increasingly have business-to-business implications, merging to enable a new level of information, personalisation and integrating it across mobile, wearable, IoT and sensor-rich environments.


We’ve all joked that ‘there is an app for everything’, but you have to agree that this is extending way past what any of us could have imagined! Berg Insight have reported that annual app downloads will reach 108 billion in 2017. And IBIZ World are predicting that the App Development industry will be one of the highest growth sectors for employment over the next 5 years.


Apps being built specifically for organisations will deliver real time insights and enable game changing decision making capability, heightened organisational agility, transparency and responsiveness. We will have unprecedented access to our supply chain data, from supplier to client and every step in between, enabling informed decisions, more customer personalisation and a lean, streamlined operation.


Emerson’s ATG view App allows users with a mobile device, to scan scan a quick response code (QRC) located on the CSI SI 6500 ATG cabinet and immediately view the status and health of all cards and measurements from the associated rack on their mobile device. This enables quicker maintenance rounds and reduces unnecessary trips to the control room, helping maintenance teams be more productive and responsive to changes in equipment health.

Intelligent Things

Self-driving cars and drones are no longer just found in bond movies, they are fast becoming a reality in our day to day lives. Even more advanced, is their infiltration into the industrial space, and we love it - not just for what these technologies can achieve - but for the critical part they play in making the industrial environments safer.

ADVI are leading the way in this space, with driverless vehicle trials successfully taking place in Adelaide this year.

Raspberry Pi

Developed as a low cost computer for learning, Raspberry Pi is small and affordable computer, around $50 in fact, finding uses in the industrial arena. Raspberry Pi was developed by Adafruit Industries, an open-source hardware company based in New York ten years ago and who during the year, accepted their one millionth order.


This year, a student from a US community college developed a Raspberry Pi computer application, which can be used as a retro fit kit for a Legacy Manufacturing Systems. He won the MTConnect Student Challenge Idea Creation Competition for his creation.


For a bit of fun, here are some cool projects using Raspeberry Pi from Geeks Life.


But as we enjoy the wonders of our increasingly connected world, the implications of a breach in security of our systems escalates exponentially. This is no longer a concern felt only by high profile brands, according to the Australian Government, 33% of Australian businesses have experienced a cybercrime, at an average cost of $276,323.


The recent cybeattacks which affected popular websites like Amazon, Twitter and Reddit were the result of malware called 'Mirai', which manipulated smart IoT technology.  The key here is updates, and understanding that with this new smart technolgoy comes the responsibility to undertake regular updates.


Global information security management company Symantec have published an Internet Security Threat Report with some useful best practices (page 71 & 72) or business and the Department of Defence claims that 85% of targeted cyber intrusions could be prevented by following these four mitigation strategies.


When a machine stops, it can quickly escalate to calling in external help – sometimes unnecessarily. The Breakdown Checklist is designed to get you back online faster. It will get your team thinking about what caused the breakdown and assess the need for external advice. Download the free downtime checklist here.


Get the checklist!


SAGE Automation delivers agile, scalable and secure solutions that don’t just solve current problems, but pre-empt and deter future ones, helping your organisation thrive. With years of experience working in defence, resources, utilities and manufacturing we have the expertise you need to complete your job on budget and on time.

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