How do you break the trap of IIoT development?
Streamlined tools and industry knowledge can help with faster, more effective Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) implementations.
- Learn how industrial Internet platforms can be grouped into three main categories.
- See advantages of IIoT that focuses on field interconnections.
- Examine how IIoT can break the trap of industrial internet with industry expertise.
Development of the industrial internet is in full swing. At the industrial level, according to statistics, more than 1,900 platforms support Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) worldwide. Of course, “The value of the industrial internet’s existence is not limited to a platform. Its most important value is to empower all real industries and bring efficiency improvements to all businesses of enterprises,” according to Cai Qinan, general manager of Advantech (China) Industrial Internet of Things Business Group.
[subhead]Three categories of IIoT platforms
Industrial Internet platforms can be grouped into three main categories. One is the proprietary platform used within large enterprises. This type of platform application can only serve single enterprises.
Another category is the industry platform, such as construction machinery enterprises and home appliance manufacturing enterprises, which develop platforms. These are used by and provided to enterprises in the same industry.
The third category is the general platform, which is suitable for various industries. These platforms are not built based on a certain enterprise or industry. They only provide application development for various industries, have strong openness and versatility and support multiple applications in multiple industries.
IIoT focus on field interconnections
An industrial Internet platform should interconnect field equipment, collect field data and then transmit data in various ways to reach the cloud for analysis and processing. At present, many IIoT solution providers are keen on building platforms, especially with cloud and communication devices as the core, without paying attention to connecting:
- All production aspects of customer enterprises
- The special situations and requirements of the customer’s industry.
This IIoT development trap focuses on platform building rather than value creation. The IIoT development trap mainly results from wide use of information technology (IT) and cloud platforms in recent years, little differentiation among platforms in the cloud technology, and from serious fragmentation of interconnections of field layer equipment and data collection information. IT companies generally are not good at integrating decades of fragmented field equipment. Industrial internet can focus on those challenges and create value.
The industrial Internet platform from operational technology (OT) manufacturers usually have inherent IIoT advantages. For example, Advantech has been engaged in automation for more than 30 years, developing more than 10,000 models of data acquisition (DAQ) and data transmission products. These industrial communication products include various data acquisition modules, remote input/output (I/O) devices, wireless intelligent sensors, edge programmable controllers, edge intelligent gateways, intelligent terminal remote terminal units (RTUs), industrial switches and others.
Automation products by their natures require field-level equipment interconnection of various industries, such as intelligent manufacturing, intelligent equipment, smart city and infrastructure. Neither software nor hardware need to be provided by third-party cooperative manufacturers. Because of experience with field equipment, networking and data collection, the industrial internet solution creates value for end users.
“Unlike other IIoT platforms, Advantech’s development on the industrial internet is bottom-up. On the basis of strong data collection and transmission, we developed the industrial platform as a service (PaaS) so field equipment data can be more complete and reliably transmitted to the cloud platform. This is one of the characteristics and advantages of our industrial internet platform,” said Cai Qinan.
IIoT can break the trap of industrial internet with industry expertise
An industrial internet solution needs to be deeply cultivated in the industries it serves. At present, there is no general scheme that can be implemented across industries without change. Cai Qinan believes the manufacturing industry’s needs are ever-changing and diverse. Each industry has its own industry knowledge. To implement IIoT in various industries, the needs, working methods and even industry rules of each enterprise must be understood to carefully form industry-based IIoT customer solutions. System integrators and customers need to be able to participate the design and implementation.
In 2018, Advantech put forward the plan of creating solution-ready packages (SRP) with system integrators and leading enterprises in each industry to design and develop its IIoT PaaS. Advantech also has established a special strategic investment department for this purpose, and a special company with these co-creation partners to invest financially to help IIoT implementation.
Partners using the Advantech WISE-PaaS platform no longer need to develop their own IIoT platform from scratch, but only need to focus on industrial application development. The platform provides fast connection from edge to cloud. From edge devices to various cloud services, it can be integrated and has many general industrial application components. Users can complete the scheme construction with a small amount of customization without needing to write a large amount of code.
For the manufacturing industry, it is very important to choose a good industrial internet platform.
For end users, enterprises are not a place to showcase high technology, but to use it to create value and bring practical benefits. By grasping the point of “creating value on the ground” we can escape the trap of IIoT development and return to the essence of empowering industry.
Stone Shi is executive editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China; Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEYWORDS: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), industrial internet
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