As you have already learned, CPS is primarily there to make complex systems faster and more efficient. There are various advantages and disadvantages.
What about the advantages? Some of them you probably already know from the previous chapter:
- Increased efficiency and cost savings
Systems can run much more efficiently. Due to constant self-control and readjustment, issues such as maintenance, wearouts, resource consumption and production downtime are minimised, perceived in real time and reacted to accordingly.
For example, logistic systems can automatically determine stock levels and demand and place orders accordingly.
CPS enable the networked environment to react extremely quickly, adapt and control processes itself. For example, the same production environment can be used for mass production as well as for working on individual prototypes. This is usually not possible in conventional factories without high additional costs.
Different systems can be combined under one large system. In this way, future concepts such as self-driving cars and networked road systems become possible in the first place.
- Industrial safety
In many dangerous situations, people are no longer needed on the spot. Disaster control, military operations or even manufacturing processes are carried out by CPS units. The human being only has a monitoring and control function.
And the downside?
Well, that’s where it gets harder. But there are actually some dangers that have to be considered and currently still raise big question marks:
- Complex technology
You have already recognised it – there is a lot of technology in CPS. It has to work, not only on its own but above all together. If a subsystem is defective, the whole system may be affected. Because of the many technical elements that are all connected to each other, CPS are considered to be quite susceptible to failures. The more complex the technology, the more possibilities there are for faults.
This can result in individual small errors that paralyse the entire system. Troubleshooting is then correspondingly lengthy and difficult.
- Programmed decisions
CPSs should act as autonomously as possible. A “wrong” decision can be made due to a software error or an unforeseen event. A machine can only “think” as far as it has been programmed. For some situations this might be too little, especially in the case of operating errors by humans.
- Hacking and security
As you have learned, CPS will also experience a great deal of integration in social issues. However, technical systems could also be hacked and thus sabotaged or manipulated. This is particularly critical in areas such as energy supply or military applications.
Absolutely high safety regulations have to be fulfilled constantly. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of networked systems.
- Privacy and personal rights
We live in a world in which many things are connected with each other and innumerable information is available on the net. Here, of course, the question also arises what data is sent where and by whom it is used.
This ranges from company data to highly private data. The use of energy in one’s own household can shed light on living habits, health data can bring disadvantages in insurance matters or companies can lose important data to competitors.
Here, too, it is necessary to clarify not only information technology but also legal issues and to introduce new standards.
CPS have a number of advantages and disadvantages.