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20 YEARS OF AUTOMATION MAGAZINE SUPPLEMENT FEATURE


LOOKING BACK OVER 20 YEARS OF AUTOMATION MAGAZINE


Here we take a look back at the original idea and rationale behind Automation’s launch in the late 1990s, some of the developments which have taken place since then, and also a glimpse into the future


W


hen Automation was launched in 1996, it was heralded as a ‘new


magazine with a new concept in technical publishing.’ These were big claims, but the timing was perfect as there was a gap in the market and Automation filled it very well. The magazine was to report on the practical aspects of modern manufacturing, looking at how engineers and plant managers were solving production problems and improving factory efficiency, and that ethos very much continues today. Back then


industrial automation was already starting


to get a foothold in manufacturing and having a positive affect on many industrial sectors and the plan was for the magazine’s editorial to cover a wide range of topics and reflect these changes. The first issue, for instance, included stories as wide ranging as bottling at a brewery, safety at a Jaguar car plant, and the automation of attractions at Legoland in Windsor, all things you can’t help thinking may have been of interest to the magazine’s first editor, Paul Gay. All joking aside, this


variety of content really Suzanne Gill, ex-Editor Neil Mead, Editor


shows how automation technology can be used for so many different applications, but all to help increase productivity and improve efficiency and profitability. Thanks to the technology advances


made in the last 20 years, we are now moving into a new era which has been termed ‘Industry 4.0’, or the fourth industrial revolution and we are talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Big Data, and Cloud Computing. All of these trends involve many devices networked together and a lot of data available to do things. The good news is the supporting technologies behind all the buzzwords are already available and mean that Automation magazine will be reporting on even more and faster developments over the next 20 years. Neil Mead, Editor


EVOLVING OVER THE YEARS At 20 years old Automation is now definitely a magazine of its time. I remember someone telling me when I started editing the magazine at the end of the 1990s that it had been launched too soon! Today, automation in all its forms has become a vital part of the drive towards increased productivity and greater efficiency. Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, which we are all hearing so much about today, would certainly not be possible without automation.


Today the trend towards ever greater connectivity is moving forward at a rapid pace as we become aware of the value of the once neglected and unobtainable data available from the plant floor. This rush towards a digitised enterprise makes it a really exciting time for Automation magazine; as automation technologies start to work alongside communication and information technologies I feel that we are set to see some truly disruptive changes occurring for the good of the manufacturing sector. It is a time that requires UK industry to be brave and to embrace change and ensure it is not left behind by technology advances and by overseas competitors. Suzanne Gill Editor, 1999 – 2008


/AUTOMATION 20TH ANNIVERSARY SUPPLEMENT | APRIL 2016 S5


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