This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Record.
Organisations across the world have invested considerable resources into harnessing the industrial internet of things (IIoT) to reap its benefits. These include access to a vast communications infrastructure, increased scalable processing power and reduced obsolescence of existing equipment. Early adopters may now be considering the next steps to further capitalise on their IIoT investments with little to no additional cost.
Whatever their initial motivation for adopting IIoT technology, manufacturing companies need to consider several factors to gain maximum value from their investment. First, they need to consider whether the manufacturing equipment in all company locations is connected. If those connections do not exist, they could implement low-cost IoT gateway hardware that is integrated with a comprehensive, cloud-based software platform. The software should be able to use established transport technology (AMQP, HTTPS, REST/JSON, MQTT). It should also work with multiple energy, building and industrial protocols, including BACnet, Modbus, SNMP, OPC Unified Architecture and web services.
Once all possible physical connections to the IIoT have been made, the next step is for companies to ensure they are fully using the analysis and management capabilities of an integrated IoT gateway software suite. Energy consumption analysis and fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) are two areas that can help justify the IIoT business case.
Energy analysis capabilities should be part of any manufacturing company’s IIoT roadmap, while an FDD software solution coupled with IoT technology can save customers between 10-20% in annual energy costs. An intuitive, user-friendly web-based dashboard can help companies to easily and clearly visualise actionable information from these high-level analysis tools anywhere in the world.
IoT-connected, analytical tools will continue to evolve. Energy and FDD solutions that are accessible via a self-service KPI dashboard will soon be available to manufacturers as a software-as-a-
service option, often at affordable subscription costs. Companies will still require IoT-integrated hardware connections (whether via IoT gateways or otherwise), but they will be able to access resulting data and corresponding analyses as easily as signing on to their Microsoft Azure cloud portal.
Companies that have invested in connecting their manufacturing operations to the IIoT have made an important first step into the future. Now it is logical for them to deploy either on-premise or cloud-hosted big data energy monitoring and fault analyses dashboards to achieve further savings.
Melissa Topp is senior director of global marketing at ICONICS
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