Industrial automation is not new, but the Industrial Internet of Things is a comparatively newer concept. The internet was originally an exclusive tool built for the US Department of Defense during the 1960s, but a lot has happened since then – internet now connects the whole world, pricing is no longer an issue, internet-capable devices now come in every form, smart-homes are a real thing, and the world has seen the Internet of Things emerge. Naturally, technological advancement is gradually leading us toward the Industrial Internet of Things.
What is IIoT?
In a general approach, the idea of the IIoT is supposed to connect every aspect of running an industry to the internet. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) will break-free of their proprietary firmware or protocol dependency, web based controllers will eliminate the needs of having specific software to control different nodes in a factory, and sensors will provide accurate status on machinery and make adjustments to their optimum operational capabilities. With the IIoT, getting an overview of an entire industry will become a whole lot easier.
Prepare your Industry for IIoT
The preparation can be vast, but there are essentially only 5 core objectives to accomplish.
- Put IIoT into Perspective: A car manufacturing plant and a ready-made garments (RMG) plant will have major differences in the production line and supply chain, but their IIoT will march towards a pretty similar goal. All the internet-enabled machinery will go through a lot of processes – machine learning, “Big Data”, an array of sensors for gathering accurate data, integration between hardware and web-based interface, real-time data collection, analysis, transmission of data etc. to consistently attain better production output and calculate sustainability of machinery in the long term. Consider all these factors and put the IIoT for your business into perspective.
- An Effective IIoT Data Framework: As mentioned earlier, no two industries will have the exact same IIoT implementation. A framework should clearly define how data will be gathered, processed and stored. In IIoT, data is collected in massive scale and this data defines how industrial operations shall be set in motion. An effective framework helps to analyze the data in a controlled and disciplined manner. Higher management, regulation authorizes and audit firms can later access the data through a web tool and take necessary steps to prevent failures.
- Get Devices IIoT Ready: A conventional factory is almost like a computer before the internet days. A PC without internet is locally capable of doing a lot, however, acquisition of data is a lengthy process and hence, less productive. To implement IIoT, the PLCs need to be protocol and firmware independent. The ability to install any OS on a specific PLC would provide an advantage with more in-depth control from a remote location. Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) can be replaced by web-based interfaces so that anyone can access and check device status without being nearby. Lastly, installing sensors in all devices allows you to monitor whether the systems are operating at their optimum performance.
- Cloud-Computing and Cloud-Storage: The systems in IIoT generate data every moment, a cloud computing mechanism should gather all of this data and automatically analyze it on a cloud platform so that it is available for remote access at anytime. Advanced Process Control (APC) and Condition-Based Monitoring (CBM) platforms are much easier to use when necessary data is consolidated on a centralized platform.
- Set up a secure network for your IIoT: This process is more like setting up a traditional network, except each network component should be capable enough to handle restless data transmission in both directions. Consider hiring network professionals with expertise in the IIoT for better output. Traditional IT experts may not always offer the same depth of work output and flexibility. In the IIoT, connection security is more important than anything else when it comes to setting up a network.
The IIoT taking over modern industries is inevitable, and this change is for the good. Businesses have plenty of room to be more productive, and IIoT is one of the best solutions readily available. All components that are needed to build up an IIoT enabled industrial organization are out there, its now up to the industries to make that decision and prepare for IIoT accordingly.