How to implement an industrial internet of things automation plan

How to implement an industrial internet of things automation plan

Melissa Topp from ICONICS says manufacturing companies need to prioritise their protocols

Caspar Herzberg |

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.

If your organisation has not yet developed a plan to adopt the industrial internet of things (IIoT), especially for monitoring, controlling and analysing automated processes, it’s safe to say it soon will. However, you must consider three challenges.

Tying existing applications to cloud services without setting realistic expectations may set you up for failure, so first you must understand what to expect after implementing an IoT-based solution.

Using a cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure helps to increase scalability within connected applications. Companies can add or subtract computing power and/or data storage space when necessary, rather than committing to new hardware. Cloud service providers will use the latest technology for your applications’ requirements, so deploying an IoT-based solution would mean you don’t need to upgrade hardware.

Another benefit is increased connectivity and the ability to leverage advanced analytics services. IoT-based software facilitates interoperability between numerous connected devices via multiple industry protocols. Having access to data in the cloud means you can take advantage of analytics applications and services, such as Microsoft’s Power BI and Machine Learning, or ICONICS’ AnalytiX suite of operational excellence solutions.

Second, you must decide if new equipment is necessary. Some companies find it prohibitively expensive to retrofit existing hardware to be IoT compatible, prompting the development of low-cost add-on devices called IoT gateways. They act as edge devices that provide southbound connectivity to on-premise end devices, as well as northbound communications between themselves and the cloud.

When coupled with automation software, end-to-end IoT solutions like IoTWorX provide security with full functionality, such as HMI/SCADA visualisation, high-speed data historian storage/retrieval, and advanced analytics including energy management and fault detection/diagnostics.

Finally, you must decide which communications protocols are most important. An IoT Gateway Software Suite like ICONICS’ IoTWorX should handle OPC Classic, OPC Unified Architecture, Modbus, Simple Network Management Protocol, and BACnet. With an IoT-based solution, you should also add Advanced Message Queuing Protocol, Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, and Representational State Transfer/JavaScript Object Notation to that list. These protocols provide the level of security required for an IoT gateway’s northbound communications.

Take these considerations into account and you’ll be on your way to a successful IIoT automation project.

Melissa Topp, senior director of global marketing at ICONICS

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