The Industrial Internet of Things

  • October 31, 2018

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    What is Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT?

    Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT, and Industrial Internet are used interchangeably when talking about the new era of manufacturing. A digital ecosystem of connected machines, equipment and devices that communicate with one another, this cyber physical system with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication monitors and evaluates the physical processes in a manufacturing facility to ultimately make decentralized decisions.

    An evolution from Automation & Robotics, Industry 4.0 is the combination of computers and machine learning algorithms that gives equipment the ability to adjust and control processes based on data it collects. This is all done with very little human intervention.

    The Clear Benefits of IoT

    Solve Real Problems

    From energy usage and preventative maintenance to supply chain management and personnel scheduling, the Internet of Things helps you monitor, analyze, and act on real-time data. Stop overspending on energy or worrying about having the right amount of personnel during peak production.

    Reduce Costs

    IoT is expected to help companies reduce overall costs by 3.6% annually (PWC). Equipment and devices making scheduled and decentralized decisions using historical operational data help reduce energy and inventory waste and equipment downtime.

    Improve Efficiency

    Companies implementing an IoT solution expect to increase efficiency by 4.1% (PWC). Using data analytics and machine learning, factories and manufacturing facilities are able to optimize production leading to increased output and efficiency.

    Avoid Downtime

    Downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion annually (Deloitte). Preventative maintenance based on collected data will help reduce average downtime by 10-20% (Deloitte). 

    Implement the Internet of Things

    Get Connected

    Hardwiring IoT devices or equipment to the internet has its advantages: reliable connectivity, longer range, and sometimes faster speeds. You have an overwhelming number of connectivity options when hardwiring isn’t possible, portable devices or wireless connections are preferred. In wireless technology, the data communication is performed and delivered over the air via electromagnetic waves, e.g. radio frequencies, infrared, and satellite, rather than over cables and wires. When choosing the right type of connectivity solution you should consider range, power consumption, and applications.

    Collect Data

    Edge devices allow us to capture data in order to make smarter decisions. These are the front-most devices of any IoT system. They primarily work as either a sensing device to collect physical environment information, or as an actuator to control the outside world with an output. In some cases, edge devices perform a dual role, acting as both a sensing and actuating device to collect and control the physical environment.

    Sensors: Temperature, Humidity, Pressure, Gas, Light, Sound, RFID, NFC, Ultrasonics, Flow Meter, Fluid, Cameras, etc.

    Actuators: Switch, Relays, PLCs, Motors, etc.

    Organize, Transfer, & Store Your Data

    All of the data that is captured from equipment and devices must be stored somewhere. The data is securely transferred to a gateway using PLCs, which organize the data, and network switches, which connect equipment throughout the facility. One of a few available protocols are used for this transfer process: I/O Link, ModBus, Ethernet, SmartBUS, CAN (EU).

    Gateways

    An IoT gateway device bridges the communication gap between edge systems like IoT devices, sensors, equipment, systems, and the cloud. Gateways perform functions such as protocol translation, data processing/storage/filtering, and device security, as well as the ability to autonomously controlling field devices based on data input by sensors.

    The Cloud

    The Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It is a combination of middleware and software services offered to carry out complex computations, processing, and analytics, as well as to provide storage, database networking, and more over the Internet.

    Sensors and devices collect data and perform actions, but the processing typically happens in the Cloud. Cloud for IoT is a set of fully-managed and integrated services that allow you to easily and securely connect, manage, and ingest IoT data from globally dispersed devices through a large scale process, analyze/visualize that data in real time, implement operational changes, and take actions as needed.

    Types of cloud services:

    • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    • Platform as a Service (PaaS)

    • Software as a Service (SaaS)

    Some of the popular IoT Cloud Platform solutions include Artik Cloud, Autodesk Fusion Connect, AWS IOT, GE Predix, Google Cloud IoT, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, IBM Watson IoT, ThingWorx, Intel IoT Platform, Salesforce IoT Cloud, Telit DeviceWise, Zebra Zatar Cloud, macchina.io, ThingSpeak, and Particle Cloud.

    Trigger a Reaction

    With all of your data collected, transferred, and stored in the cloud, you can now use software to manipulate, analyze, and act on it. Triggers can be as simple as sending alerts when thresholds are met or as complex as modifying main or sub-system instructions, tasks, or processes based on several points of data. The actions can be manual or automated processes that help improve efficiency and productivity or aid in avoiding downtime or equipment breakdowns.

    The advantage of IoT is the real-time data analysis and reactions that can be triggered with little to no human input. Automated systems using machine learning algorithms allow equipment to make decentralized decisions that help you save money, time, and resources.

    With the Cloud you can even remotely access and control your equipment and devices as issues occur. This is especially helpful in situations where equipment is in different locations or when the equipment cannot be safely accessed by personnel.

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    IEEE Spectrum

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