Manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is being hyped as the “next big thing” for manufacturing and other industrial businesses. There is an inevitable transition to a decentralized, automated control environment that will transform manufacturing to new heights. It will ultimately increase operational efficiency and the evolution of product innovation.
There was a lot of hype and interest when the concept of Internet of Things was first introduced. This concept is being driven by everyday objects having an internet connection; items such as washers, dryers, toasters, sweatshirts, shoes, and now even vehicles. This concept caught on extremely quick and is developing faster than anyone could have predicted. The concept of IIoT is more of a logical extension of automation and connectivity that is used in the plant environment and with machine-to-machine communication. This movement started with allowing smart devices and connected sensors in the plant, and is evolving from there. There is however, the need for manufacturers to hit the pause button to ensure they are ready to take on this technology and can do so without hitting road bumps.
Connected factories were originally designed to be a mainly closed environment, designed to communicate solely with the plant network and not the outside world. This gives your business 2 options to consider if you want to join the IIoT movement; move your internal data online or update your Internet Protocal to a TCP/IP compatible connection. Enabling a connection to the internet allows access to IIoT data and supporting applications from any device, at any time, and at any location. Another thing to consider is if your organization is using any intra-factory communications that take place over an Ethernet network and aren’t internet enabled. All non-compliant devices and controllers would need to be replaced in order to ensure all data is available to all users. Another thing you will need to consider is security. Once your data becomes available online, it is vulnerable to security breaches, hackers, user errors, etc. The availability of more connected sensors, controls, and devices can only provide more visibility into the organization. Companies will be able to keep better tabs on all locations within their supply chain.
Any technological evolution will cause your organization disruption and cost you money, but it gives you the hope for improved operational performance. Anytime you decide to take on new technologies, you need to go into the situation with your eyes open. You need to have a strategy and plan in place, and you need to educate yourself on the complications and hiccups you may face as well. If you are interested in embracing the Industrial Internet of Things and need help guiding your organization through this process, please contact 2W Tech today.