Virtual Reality: A Game-Changer in Industrial Automation

Virtual reality (VR) technology is revolutionizing the way industrial automation operates. Transforming the manufacturing sector, VR enables companies to create immersive training environments and digital prototypes that simulate real-world conditions. The benefits of VR in industrial automation are numerous, making it an increasingly popular tool in the industry.

The Brief History of VR

Virtual reality (VR) technology has a history that dates back to the mid-20th century. According to a report by the History of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research group. In the 1960s, computer scientist, Ivan Sutherland created the first device, the”The Sword of Damocles”. It was a crude prototype that consisted of a head-mounted display and a tracking system. The device enabled users in experiencing computer-generated environments in a way that felt more immersive than any previous computer interface.

In the following decades, VR technology advanced rapidly, especially in the field of military simulation and training. The 1990s saw the commercial sector showing interest in VR technology. This led to the development of more advanced VR systems for use in video games, medicine, and other fields. Today, VR technology is more sophisticated and is used in various applications. This ranges from gaming and entertainment to education and training. Over the years VR technology has become more affordable and there has been wider development in VR software. This makes the technology more accessible to a much broader audience as it rapidly evolves.

VR’s Effect on the Industry

There are different significant uses of VR in industrial automation. One is the creation of virtual simulations of production lines, assembly processes, and operating procedures. This enables engineers and operators to experience the manufacturing process from start to finish in a virtual environment. This improves their understanding of the process and reduces the risk of errors. One report by ResearchAndMarkets, estimates the market to grow from $4.08 billion in 2020 to $9.51 billion by 2025.

Another way VR is advancing industrial automation is through the use of digital twin technology. A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical system. It provides real-time data and insights into the system’s performance. This allows manufacturers to monitor and optimize the performance of their machines in real time, reducing downtime and improving efficiency. MarketsandMarkets, predicts, the digital twin market to grow from $5.72 billion in 2018 to $35.8 billion by 2023.

Furthermore, VR is also being used in training and education in the industrial automation sector. Companies can create immersive training environments for employees. This allows them to experience realistic scenarios without putting themselves or others at risk. Additionally, this not only improves employee safety but also helps employees acquire new skills faster and more effectively.

Virtual reality is advancing industrial automation by providing a safer, more efficient, and more effective way to train employees. It simulates production processes and optimizes machine performance. VR’s versatility and ability to provide real-time data and insights make it a vital tool in the industrial automation industry.

Company Spotlight: FANUC

FANUC, (aka FANUC Corporation), is a Japanese multinational corporation. They specialize in the manufacturing and sale of robotics, automation, and CNC (computer numerical control) systems. Founded in 1956, the company has a long history of becoming one of the manufacturing industry’s leading players.

The Beginning

Like any good industry story, FANUC began with three engineers. Seiuemon Inaba, Ichiro Kigawa, and Takeshi Nakamura worked at the Fujitsu Fanuc factory in Japan before establishing FANUC in 1956. The company’s first product, a computerized numerical control (CNC) system, automated turning raw materials into finished products. This revolutionary system significantly increased the efficiency and precision of manufacturing processes. According to the company’s website, Fanuc produced the first CNC system in 1958.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, FANUC continued expanding its product line, developing new CNC systems and other automation technologies. Specifically, the 1970s saw FANUC focus on establishing itself as a leading manufacturer of numerical control (NC) systems. The company’s sales during this decade were modest, as it was still building its brand and reputation in the market. According to the company’s official website, FANUC’s focus on innovation and customer satisfaction helped it establish a strong foundation in the NC systems market. The company also began to establish a global presence. They opened subsidiaries in Europe and the United States. According to MarketsandMarkets FANUC had established itself as a major player in the global CNC market by the 1970s.

Ending the Century Strong

The 1980s saw FANUC entering the robotics market with the launch of its first industrial robot, the FANUC Robot M-1. The M-1’s success established FANUC as a leading player in the robotics industry. In a report from Technavio, by the early 1980s, FANUC had become one of the leading suppliers of industrial robots in Japan. The company continued expanding its robotics product line throughout the 1980s and 1990s, developing new robots for a variety of industrial applications.

The New Millenium

In the early 2000s, FANUC continued to innovate and grow, expanding into new markets and developing new technologies. The company launched a series of collaborative robots, designed to work alongside human operators. It also began developing AI-powered systems. By the early 2000s FANUC had become one of the leading suppliers of collaborative robots in the world.

Today, FANUC stands as a global leader in the manufacturing industry. They provide products and services used in a wide range of industries. This includes automotive, aerospace, electronics, and medical devices. The company has a strong reputation for innovation and quality, and it continues to invest in R&D to develop new technologies that can improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes. According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, FANUC is the world’s largest supplier of industrial robots, holding a market share of over 30%.

The company has a long and storied history that has seen it become one of the leading players in the global manufacturing industry. FANUC has established itself as a company dedicated to innovation, quality, and efficiency. They continue to invest in R&D, developing new technologies that can improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes.

Industrial Automation: Job Growth

The industrial automation sector has seen significant job growth in the past decade. A report by MarketsandMarkets, estimates the global industrial automation market to reach $296 billion by 2023. From 2018 to 2023 the CAGR saw a growth of 6.6%. The adoption of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, rising labor costs, and a growing need for improved efficiency and productivity have been contributing factors.

This growth in the industrial automation market has also led to an increase in job opportunities in the sector. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) found industrial automation jobs increased by 2.6 million worldwide between 2010 and 2016. The study also predicted continued job growth in the sector reaching 2.8 million by 2019.

Manufacturing roles aren’t the only jobs increasing in the industrial automation sector. Additionally, industrial automation technologies have led to a growing need for skilled professionals in other areas. These include engineering, programming, and data analysis, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of industrial engineers, for example, projected 8% growth from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

In addition, the industrial automation sector is also a significant contributor to the growth of the economy. The IFR estimates that every robot installed in the manufacturing industry creates an average of 1.6 jobs. Furthermore, the increasing adoption of industrial automation technologies is also expected to lead to new jobs. These areas can include the installation, maintenance, and repair of automation systems.

In conclusion, the industrial automation sector has seen significant job growth in the past decade, driven by the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 and IoT technologies, rising labor costs, and a growing need for improved efficiency and productivity. Experts continue to expect this growth in the coming years, leading to an increase in job opportunities not just in manufacturing roles but also in areas such as engineering, programming, and data analysis.

The History of “The New Year”

For thousands of years, New Year celebrations have changed and evolved. Some of the oldest celebrations evidently located in ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt.

In Ancient Times

Ancient Mesopotamia celebrated the new year around the time of the vernal equinox, around March 21st. The Akkadian people, who lived in ancient Mesopotamia, celebrated the new year with a festival called Akitu. This festival included crowing a king and honoring the gods.


Ancient Egypt celebrated the new year around the time of the inundation of the Nile, which typically occurred in the month of September.

One of the most important of these was the festival of Wepet Renpet, which honored the god, Ra. During this festival, the Pharaoh would lead a procession to the temple of Ra and offer sacrifices to the god.

Other rituals and ceremonies associated with the Egyptian new year included the reading of the “Book of the Dead.” These were a collection of spells and incantations used to protect the deceased in the afterlife. There also existed an “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony. This gave the deceased the power to speak and eat in the afterlife.

The Egyptians also celebrated the new year with feasts and celebrations. They would decorate their homes and temples with flowers and other decorations. They also held large banquets in honor of the gods.


The Roman calendar, which was based on the movements of the moon, originally had only ten months. They celebrated the new year on March 1st, calling it the “New Year’s Day of the Consuls.” Later, the Romans reformulated the calendar and the new year moved to January 1st.

A variety of traditions and customs marked the Roman new year. One important tradition, the exchange of gifts, brought good luck for the coming year. The Romans would also decorate their homes with greenery and other decoration. Like the Egyptians, they also held feasts and parties to celebrate the new year.

The Roman Empire also marked the new year by performing religious rituals. The Romans believed that the gods had a special role to play in the new year. They offered sacrifices and perform other rituals to honor them.

Medieval Europe

The celebration of the New Year in Medieval Europe landed on different dates depending on the region. The British Isles celebrated the new year on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation. For the Catholic Church, December 25th was the feast of the Nativity. They celebrated by singing Christmas carols and exchanging gifts.

Overall, the celebration of the new year in medieval Europe was a time of renewal and a time to look forward to the future. It was a time to come together with family and friends and celebrate the blessings of the past year.


In Africa, the celebration of the new year varies among different tribes and cultures. Some African tribes mark the new year as a time of renewal and celebrate with rituals, ceremonies, and feasts.

For example, the Ashanti people of Ghana celebrate the new year with the festival of Homowo, which is a time to honor their ancestors and give thanks for the blessings of the past year. During this festival, the Ashanti people hold traditional dances, perform rituals, and prepare special foods.

Other African tribes celebrate the new year with different traditions and customs. The Zulu people of South Africa mark the new year with the Umkhosi woMhlanga, or Reed Dance, which is a celebration of womanhood and fertility. The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania celebrate the new year with the Eunoto, a rite of passage for young warriors.

Overall, the celebration of the new year in Africa is a time of renewal and a time to honor the past and look forward to the future. It is a time for families and communities to come together and celebrate the blessings of the past year.

The Modern Celebration

The modern celebration of New Year’s Day on January 1st traces back to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII implemented the calendar as a way to reform the Julian calendar which had become inaccurate over time. Presently, the Gregorian calendar is the uniform system for determining the dates of holidays and other important events.

Today, countries all over the world celebrate New Year with a variety of traditions and customs. Many countries mark New Year’s Eve with parties, fireworks, and the ringing of church bells at midnight. In other countries, New Year’s Day is a time for family gatherings and the exchange of gifts.

Covid’s Effect on Automation

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the industrial automation industry, with both positive and negative effects.

The Positive

On the positive side, the demand for automation has increased as companies look for ways to reduce the number of workers on the factory floor and minimize the risk of virus transmission. Automation can help to maintain social distancing guidelines and reduce the need for close contact between workers. In addition, many companies have turned to automation to increase the efficiency and speed of their operations in the face of supply chain disruptions and other challenges caused by the pandemic. According to a report by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), “the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred increased interest in automation as a means to reduce the risk of infection, improve efficiency, and maintain or increase production levels in the face of supply chain disruptions and other challenges.”

The Negative

On the negative side, the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for automation equipment and components, leading to delays and shortages. Many manufacturers and suppliers have had to deal with disruptions to their operations due to lockdowns and other measures taken to control the spread of the virus. This has made it more difficult for companies to obtain the equipment and components they need to automate their operations. According to the A3 report, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for automation equipment and components, leading to delays and shortages.”

The pandemic has also had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industrial automation industry. Many businesses have had to deal with reduced demand and lower revenues due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. This has led to a decrease in investment in automation and a slowdown in the growth of the industry. According to a report by the International Association of Automation (IAA), “the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industrial automation industry, leading to a decrease in investment in automation and a slowdown in the growth of the industry.”


Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a mixed impact on the industrial automation industry. While the demand for automation has increased in some sectors, the disruptions caused by the pandemic have led to delays and shortages in the supply chain and have had a negative impact on the financial performance of many companies in the industry.

How Old is “Too Old”?

Upgrading Vs Swapping

When it comes to the world of automation controllers, it is important that a system perform as long as it possibly can. After all, what good is buying a new machine when a company has to shell out millions every few years for a full replacement? That being said, like all things, these systems have their own expiration date. Of course, that expiration time is not an exact number and very much depends heavily on multiple factors. Depending on the facility, management, operator, etc., an entire setup can potentially last up to 30 years if well maintained. In fact, while we are in the year 2022, there are numerous companies today that are still using equipment from the 1980’s with some going back further than that!

“When Should I Upgrade?”

Upgrading your system is a large undertaking for any company. Not only is the cost to upgrade something to really consider. Businesses also have to account for operations, deadlines, and return on investment (ROI). When thinking about upgrading your equipment, some important factors to think about include:

Production Challenges
If you are seeing a higher volume in sales and your current setup cannot meet the rise in demand, then it may be time to consider upgrading. Newer machines can output product at a faster rate.

Labor is often one of the largests costs when it comes to business operations. Not only are we talking about the base wage of an employee, but also the cost of training. Some fields of work have high turnover rates which makes having to hire and train new employees a constant and expensive venture. Some uprgrades are available that now automate certain tasks once perfomed by employees.

While the upfront cost might end up being quite a steep price to pay. In the long term, upgrading your equipment can give a business the competitive edge it needs to produce products faster, higher quality, and more efficiently thus saving money on the back end.

As a company expands, the prospects of upgrading and automating certain aspects of the production is can not only help saving money in any long-term costs that comes with expansion, but also maintain quality control as the company grows.

The production of waste is not only an issue that comes with potential environmental and legal rammifications, but also with economical ones as well. The accountability of letting environmental waste go unchecked has long-lasting and very expensive repurcussions. Upgrading to newer equipment can also mean a reduction in waste production as well.

Better Precision
Newer equipment also tends to be more precise with higher accuracy in manufacturing which aids in the produciton of more complex components.

“What if Upgrading Isn’t Worth It?”

As previously mentioned, the greatest obstacle when it comes to upgrading is the upfront costs. Usually companies with enough capital can make these upgrades. Some companies with more limited capital may make incremental upgrades. However, there are plenty of businesses out there that simply do not have the sort of capital needed to commit to upgrading their equipment. This is especially challenging when a company’s equipment suddenly breaks down and needs replacing. The dire need for operations to continue means small turn around times (if any) for machines to be shut down. While this is happening, a company can lose huge sums of money from not having product to sell. Therefore many companies want whatever the quickest turn around time possible to get production back up.

One alternative solution for companies with smaller budgets is to just buy refurbished and certified pre-owned equipment from vendors. The advantage of this being that most components are able to be hot swapped. This allows you to just purchase and replace the broken part and not have invest in completely new machinery. Another advantage of this is that a company can save a lot of time and money by not having their technician needing to learn an entirely new system. Especially when going from a setup that was installed 30 years ago to the newest one.

The End Cost

It is important to take note that when replacing with pre-owned/used parts, these are in fact; used. It is good to make sure a refurbished vendor tests the product before selling it. Some vendors offer, warranties and have return policies in place. That being said, you’re still working with old equipment. The lifespan of used or refurbished items will not have the same longevity as new parts. This means the cost you were hoping to save by a simple part replacement may again end up costing you more down the road.

Ultimately, it is up to the owner to weigh the pros and cons. Afterwards they have to think about long vs short term solutions and if the cost is worth it.

Diversity in the Engineering Field

Opening Summary

The last decade has seen a huge shift in the way diversity plays a role in companies, with the lessons of diversity and inclusion being taught at more company meetings, and more team-wide open discussions. Often the question of: “Why should there even be conversations about diversity in the workplace?”, comes up in professional spaces. It is easy to dismiss the concepts of diversity and inclusion as simple ‘virtue signaling’ and there are numerous companies performing “diversity theatre”. However, when you get past the superficial and performative layers, there are valid points to make in regards to workplace diversity. The topic of diversity is very controversial, ironically invoking a rather diverse range of emotions and thoughts. The concept of diversity in itself is more complex than just “Oh hey, this person looks different from me so I need to work with them”.

This article will attempt to cover various issues among three demographics. While the issues being written are NOT the only obstacles facing these groups, they are the most common ones.

LGBTQ in the WorkPlace

For decades members on the LGBTQ community have experienced many obstacles in the workplace in regards to discrimination. While this form of discrimination is found across multiple industries, engineering fields such as automotive are historically known to promote that form of discrimination. This has speculated to be due to in part there being a “car guy” culture within the work environment. In an article written by Jeremy Alicandri for Forbes, Alicandri notes that a Ford Foundation-backed study found that 1 in 4 LGBTQ employees experienced discrimination or bullying in the workplace. Another study by Out Leadership, found that 47 percent LGBTQ employees experienced micro aggressions that resulted in 70 percent deciding to cover up or mask their LGBTQ characteristics.

So the question remains: Why is it important to change the work place culture?

The same Forbes article addresses the issue through a pragmatic lense. That is simply that by not including and changing the culture for LGBTQ members, a company is inevitably going to lose money. This comes in the form of both employees and consumers.

From an employment perspective, the loss of valuable talent due to discrimination in the workplace is a huge oversight for a company to make. Potentially a company could lose out on something innovative that would have yielded sizable profits all because they allowed for discrimination to happen in the work place. One example of this is of Dr. Lynn Conway, professor ameritas at Michigan State University. Conway began employment at IBM in 1964, but was fired in 1968 after it was discovered that she was transgendered. Dr. Conway speculates that it was out of fear of the company’s public image if it were discovered that they had a transgendered employee. She was hired by several other organizations (Xerox, MIT, and even the Dept of Defense) over the years and became the top scientists in her field, contributing to innovative technology that are still used in computers today.

Women in Engineering

In an online publication from the University of California, Riverside, the number of women currently working in the field of engineering is about 14 percent. This is a big leap from the 1980’s when the numbers were closer to 5.8 percent. While the number of female employees is on the rise in the field of engineering overall, there are still barriers and challenges that face women in the work place. One of the challenges that women still face are having enough role models in the work force that younger employees can look up to for guidance. Just as much as women are entering the engineering field, many women are leaving just as fast because companies are not flexible. Therefore it still leaves a huge disparity in the number of women in higher managment and leadership positions that more junior female employees can look up to when entering the engineering field.

Another issue is that while more companies are starting to implement policies and changes that can accomodate women in regards to allowing them to be able to balance their work with their family responsibilities, there are still a lot of companies that don’t have effective accomodations for things like maternity leave and needing to leave work for childrent-related issues.

Racial Diversity in Engineering

According a report by the Stem Education Journal (SEJ), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is currently the fastest growing occupational cluster in the US, with engineering being second only to the medical field. However, while a lot of companies are calling for racial diversity, at the same time positions in the STEM field continue to stagnate due to long employee retention by companies. While this is generally seen as a positive in regards to companies valuing their employees, at the same time it is presenting the issue of majority demographic within companies.

A 2019 report released by Georgetown University, found that despite making up a third of the population, the number of Black and LatinX people only made up about 14 percent of employees in the engineering field, while Asians made up 16 percent, and White employees making up 61 percent. Additionally, report goes on to cover the income disparity between racial groups with Black and LatinX employees making 15-18 percent above the average of a bachelor degree holder, while Asian and White employees make 61 – 71 percent more. Further research had also shown that in order to close the wage gap, Black and LatinX employees generally have to gain a graduate degree to make close to what Asian/White employees would make with undergraduate degrees.

One contributing factor begins in high schools where Black and LatinX students attend schools that do not have access to classes that would ideally set them on right career path towards engineering. One example the study shows is that the subject of Calculus tends to be absent in many high schools that are predominantly Black and LatinX students. To address this inequity, some robotics programs like the one in University of Michigan, are changing the curriculum to push Calculus back to later years and starting Freshman off in more linear-based math such as Algebra, as it is something that is more commonly accessible in public high schools.


In his 2005 book, “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century”, economist and author, Thomas L. Friedman covers the economic “flattening of the world” or more simply, globalization. Friedman highlights the inevitibility of interconnectivity between countries and cultures, which the world has seen more of nearly two decades after his book’s release. This highlights the importance of diversity from a pragmatic lense.

An article from UNC Pembroke, highlights a study done by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the growth of a business from diversity. Research from the study showed that companies that had higher averages for innovation also had higher diversity averages as opposed to companies with lower diversity averages. Gender diverse groups tend to out perform more gender homogenous groups by 50 percent. The article also cites a study by McKinsey and Company, showing that companies that scored in the to 25 percent for racial/culture diversity also were 25 – 36 percent more likely to bring in larger financial returns.

Ultimately what these studies are pointing to is that for a company wanting to play the long game, adapting to cultural shifts as opposed to getting locked into culture battles, is better for business.