Finding IIoT benefits

Think again, smarter manufacturing: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) with smart applications of automation can include process optimization, higher quality, safer processes, lower energy use, regulatory compliance, higher profits, and more sustainable operations. These real benefits in real money are worth the investment; see examples.

By Mark T. Hoske December 13, 2016

Use of automation to efficiently enable a connected enterprise and realize benefits of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, digital enterprise, smart manufacturing, and other initiatives, were among topics discussed at Automation Perspectives 2016, a conference prior to Automation Fair 2016 for media and analysts. The 25th Automation Fair conference and trade show, in November in Atlanta, was organized by Rockwell Automation for customers, prospects, and partners. Benefits of smart applications of automation include process optimization, higher quality, safer processes, less energy use, regulatory compliance, higher profits, and more sustainable operations.

Ninveh Neuman, vice president, global commercial marketing, Rockwell Automation, said in introductory comments, that one size doesn’t fit all with automation; customers have pervasive needs, including better data management across the enterprise. Fortunately, she said, advantages of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) convergence are here today. 

Automation helps fill the skills gap

Blake Moret, president and chief executive officer, Rockwell Automation, said global trends pushing greater adoption of automation include the rise of the middle class in emerging economies around the world, stronger competitive pressures, and a widening skills gap, where, in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of good manufacturing jobs are unfilled because the talent doesn’t have the necessary skills. Workers that brought the first wave of automation to their plants are nearing retirement and are having trouble replacing themselves, Moret said.

The lower cost of connectivity has driven opportunities, such as IT-OT convergence. Different levels of networks are collapsing and converging on Ethernet. With that infrastructure, another level of productivity can be achieved with information management and analytics applied at the right point in the architecture. Depending on the application, that may be at the plant floor, in the control room, and/or in the cloud, Moret suggested.

Manufacturers and facilities in countries around world are understanding how they can have home field advantage if they embrace connectivity. Adoption of the productivity requirements in China Manufacturing 2025, similar to IIoT and I.40 initiative, is required for Chinese manufacturers, Moret said. They’re adopting that connectivity at every level in these initiatives to unlock unprecedented productivity.

Value in connectivity

"Our vision of the connected enterprise is a practical way to get started and help companies along their journey," Moret said, noting that value can be added four ways, by making companies realize:

  1. Faster speed to market
  2. Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) of critical assets
  3. Increased asset utilization and less downtime
  4. Greater ability to manage risk and comply with regulations.

An enabler for these benefits, Moret said, is something many in industry have had trouble implementing: Convergence of IT and OT. Think again: Separate architectures aren’t needed. Info-enabled devices can turn data into useful information for better decisions and greater productivity. How much? In Rockwell Automation production facilities, implementation created a 4% to 5% annual productivity increase; 30% per year in capital expenditure avoidance, 50% reduction in lead time, and half the defects, among other benefits.

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

Consider this

With this issue, CFE Media launches IIoT for Engineers, a supplement that will help focus extensive Control Engineering coverage of IIoT benefits.

ONLINE extra

See the IIoT page.

See the IIoT series at Upcoming Webcasts, including the Dec. 15 IIoT case studies webcast, the last in the 2016 four-part IIoT series.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.