The Industrial Internet of Things
Don’t miss the big space in the middle
Over the past 25 years, there are two ends to the spectrum of thought related to this process in which the world needs to be viewed in order to properly launch both the IoT in general as well as the I2oT.
Industrial automation and control always needed to be mechanized through machines—such as manufacturing, processing, buildings, energy, transportation, etc.—and over time and through that evolution we began adding efficiencies and minimizing labor. We then progressed to distributed control, which led to distributed sensing, which then led to distributed intelligence for critical systems.
Meanwhile, on other end of spectrum—the consumer or human interface end—this group embraced all of the devices that were being produced from the factory (which were themselves utilizing automation equipment) whereby humans became interested, intrigued, and overly addicted to the great conveniences, comforts, and improvements to their overall quality of life.
This ultimately caused two interesting results; where one extreme improved the mechanism of production (i.e., industrial and factory floor), the other caused the benefits and value to be realized by human users which ultimately developed the residential and consumer markets.
As we all know, the consumer markets that developed for radios, televisions, and appliances led to the convenience of cell phones, tablet computers, smart devices, consumer GPS, and other intelligent devices that improve our day-to-day lives.
This created one very important and often overlooked realization—recognition of the two extremes often misses the continuum between the two extremes, and what that continuum represents—such as the entire commercial industry of services, products, point of sale, payment systems, security, and overall societal infrastructure that we use every day in our life and work.
This entire continuum IS the IoT which involves distributed control, distributed sensing, distributed intelligence, M2M communications, and human interface and interaction such as social media, which is driven from an underlying theme and infrastructure of e-commerce. This essentially relates to all activities that are important to a human or other entity. What Herman Storey describes is the two ends of the spectrum. PCN believes that focusing on the interconnectivity of the two ends by enabling intelligent infrastructure for the continuum in the middle is required to have a successful IoT or I2oT.
PCN has developed technology and products to enable rapid upgrade to “intelligent infrastructure” through repurposing and reusing existing legacy infrastructure. I2oT deployments can then be realized with linkage specific to the overriding goals and objectives of what I2oT is supposed to be, and allows the “industrial communication revolution” to finally take hold. Due to cost, timelines, operational shutdown, security, and capital expense requirements alone, society cannot simply shut down to replace legacy infrastructure with new IP based communication infrastructure in order to achieve its overall goals with IoT or I2oT. There are new technologies on the horizon and bleeding ones here today that are the stepping stones for deployment of multiple architectures on single communication or existing communication infrastructures.
By being able to use existing functioning infrastructure as is, and while simultaneously overlaying IP Ethernet networks anywhere within that infrastructure, network owners easily deploy new devices, applications, and systems without impacting those that are currently performing a required task. Managed migrations to the “industrial Internet” and I2oT can now be a global successful effort that ensures critical infrastructure upgrades within industrial systems, buildings, energy, oil and gas, transportation, and other industries.
Daniel Drolet is executive vice president of PCN Technology Inc.
- Internet protocol technologies are quickly moving to industrial applications.
- The Internet of Things offers many potential benefits for industrial users, but only in the right contexts.
- A careful and purposeful approach can make adoption more practical and avoid many pitfalls.
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