Remote device connectivity enables the industrial Internet of things

CSIA Executive Conference 2014: Internet of things (IoT) has grown to include all kinds of devices, internal and external to a manufacturing operation, according to a speaker at a CSIA Executive Conference session on April 24. Webcasts provide information on related topics.


Industrial Internet of things (IIOT or I2oT) can include applications, third-party services, the asset value change, intelligent assets, personnel and social tools, processes, communications, control, analytics and big data, as well as connected device maInternet of things (IoT) has changed from its origin in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to one that encompasses all kinds of devices, internal and external to a manufacturing operation, according to Mark Sen Gupta, senior consultant, ARC Advisory Group, speaking at a CSIA Executive Conference session on April 24, in San Diego. Gupta said that along with intelligent sensors, assets, and machines, IoT encompasses networking, cloud computing, analytics, big data, mobility, and universal visualization, among other components, driving new solutions for improved business performance, production efficiency, and asset optimization. Webcasts, linked at the bottom of this article, provide related information.

According to Sen Gupta:

- The things part of Internet of things includes machines, assets, devices, personnel, and equipment, connecting in new ways to accelerate innovation. There is some vagueness involved in exactly what IoT includes, though it generally ties things together via Internet services to lower costs, provide optimization, and create new apps, services, or business models, changing data into actionable information.

- A lot of this already exists in machine to machine (M2M) communications, which may or may not use the Ethernet communications that IoT uses.

- IoT enables additional value and services, such as a supplier monitoring its installed products to be able to provide better services, predictive services, product use patterns, better safety, reliability, greater efficiencies, and lower costs.

- IoT incorporates intelligent assets, communications and infrastructure, analytics and software, peoples, processes, and systems. (See graphic.)

- IoT-A is a European organization set up to look at IoT structures. Software provides virtual entities locally or in the cloud. The machine (or other thing) is represented by a virtual machine, while applications interact and change the profile, perhaps of how a pump runs, for example, emphasizing energy efficiency rather than torque.

- Machines are software defined. Users of data can be internal and external. Applications consume data. There are not too many IoT software applications as of yet. (There are many applications, but not so many are using IoT connections, yet.)

- Sensors are wired to control systems. Can a pump be smart enough to connect on its own and configure and operate optimally? We're just on the cusp of what's coming.

- Remote asset management, the old way, requires a lot of system integration work, with a lot of pay up front.

Many standards bodies are involved with the blend of technologies and processes that comprise industrial Internet of things, according to Mark Sen Gupta, senior consultant, ARC Advisory Group, Houston, Texas. Courtesy: ARC Advisory Group at CSIA Executive- Remote asset management, the new way, with the IoT model involves simpler integration and less risk because the user doesn't own assets, but instead only pays costs based on actual usage. This requires changes in how software is licensed.

- Sensor data doesn't necessarily pass through the control system. Why? Cost savings.

- IoT benefits the worsening engineering labor shortage by helping to gather data and make it available. Other functions and benefits may emerge as IoT progresses, bringing new opportunities for new business globally. Location becomes less important.

- Integrators will have to examine business models.

- Security is a concern and many standards can apply. (See related standards graphic.)

- IoT isn't about the control system; it's about the sensors. If there's enough value to offset the risk, it will happen.

- Mark T. Hoske is content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

ONLINE has related Control Engineering Webcasts, including "Wireless Mobility" and "Were we just hacked? Applying digital forensics techniques for your industrial control systems." See also, Control Engineering research on mobility, Ethernet, and wireless, and on information integration. 

Jonas , Singapore, 05/09/14 04:25 AM:

I personally agree that IoT is about deploying more sensors, wired or wireless, and that these sensors are tied together using digital networking, with a secure path to the Internet.

For instance, by deploying these sensors on pumps, heat exchangers, air cooled exchangers, cooling towers, and blowers etc. it is possible for specialists to monitor them remotely to detect pump problems or heat exchanger fouling etc. It can be done from a corporate centre of excellence, or from the manufacturer, or from third-party service company but requires a secure connection across the Internet. For the automation industry this will likely be a VPN connection – so we get an “IntRAnet of Things” if you will. So if the company only has so many “silver haired” SMEs, they can share them across sites by working remotely.

Software capable of determining the health of pumps, heat exchangers, air cooled exchangers, cooling towers, and blowers etc. from raw sensor data is already available. It presents the maintenance planner with actionable information allowing them to better plan daily maintenance and turnarounds by knowing which equipment need service and which ones don’t.

A lot of these new sensors will not connect to the control system because the data is not of interest to the production operators – most of the new data is of importance to the people responsible for maintenance and reliability, energy efficiency, and HS&E risk reduction. Therefore the data from these new sensors will go to the asset management system (AMS) and plant historian (PIMS) rather than the DCS. Sure, some, maybe 20% will go to the control system operators.

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