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Automation Design

Industrial players in the field of automation design are faced with numerous standards, technologies, development processes and methodologies that promise to improve the maturity and efficiency over their current practices. Selecting the most suitable alternatives and adapting the organization’s practices to it is a strategic decision with a very significant impact, yet it is difficult to assess the potential of the alternatives with quantitative methods. Controlled laboratory tests such as student experiments fail to recognize the history and constraints of industrial players; case studies involving professional designers will give biased results in favor of such alternatives that most closely resemble the technology that these designers are familiar with.

Much pioneering research has been carried out on technologies that relate to industrial informatics, and our goal is to work in close collaboration with the industry in order to produce assessments that are meaningful for these stakeholders. For this purpose, qualitative research methods are emphasized, since the phenomena under study are poorly understood and involve subtle and complex causalities and dependencies. We carry out case studies on the automation software development practices of Finnish companies, but these need to be complemented by laboratory work on emerging technologies that have not yet been adopted by the industry. We have laboratory test benches for such technologies that control manufacturing, process, and batch control equipment. Professional designers are invited to participate in focused design tasks; research data is obtained by interviews. Our main social event in this area is the annual IEC 61499 summer course for industry and researchers.

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