IIoT solutions for freedom, flexibility and fast access to data

Data is king in today’s digital world, and businesses are turning to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions to keep up with the demand for data. Three examples are highlighted.

By Jennifer Faylor August 9, 2022
Courtesy: Inductive Automation

IIoT Solutions Insights

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can provide valuable solutions including enhanced connectivity, efficiency, scalability, and more. Message queuing telemetry transport (MQTT) is a messaging protocol for IIoT, and is a fitting solution for industrial control systems given its low-bandwidth and bi-directional design.
  • IIoT has provided the transportation and waste/wastewater industries with great results. The transportation industry gained a unified system that can adapt to all terminals and improved flexibility as companies needs evolve. The oil and gas industry achieved improved user experience through the implementation of an open SCADA system resulting in better visibility and massive cost savings.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the name for the manufacturing industry’s use of the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a network of intelligent industrial devices that collect and share data. This data is available to other devices and applications through a central server.

Traditionally, industrial applications connect to devices directly to poll for data. This approach causes problems, like vast amounts of data being stranded in the field. With the IIoT, however, devices and applications are decoupled, resulting in a streamlined data pipeline that doesn’t strain data bandwidth.

Major benefits of the IIoT solutions include improved connectivity, efficiency, scalability, time savings and cost savings.

Now, in order for connected devices to talk to each other, a messaging protocol like message queuing telemetry transport (MQTT) is needed, along with Sparkplug to get devices speaking the same language.

What is MQTT?

MQTT lets devices at the edge of the network publish to a broker that mediates communication between clients and the edge-of-network devices. MQTT is low-bandwidth, bidirectional, secure and stateful, all of which make it ideal for industrial control systems (ICS).

Three IIoT solution examples in industry

Let’s look at how companies are leveraging IIoT solutions for freedom, flexibility and faster access to data.

1. Oil & gas: IIoT solutions for independence

WaterBridge, a midstream water management company, had outdated, proprietary control and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems unable to keep up with its rapid growth. Its systems couldn’t handle systemic changes, and the lack of ownership of its systems was causing costs to skyrocket.

To break free from the proprietary system’s limitations, WaterBridge worked with The Integration Group of Americas (TIGA) to launch “Project Independence.” Ignition Edge with MQTT was deployed at 65 saltwater disposal facilities, everything was managed centrally via an enterprise Ignition system, and Ignition Perspective was utilized for the user interface.

The result was a manageable, open supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, and an improved user experience. With the newfound ownership of its systems, WaterBridge gained consistent visibility into its operations and saved around $500k a year in operational costs.

2. Transportation: IIoT solutions for flexible growth

For our next example, we’ll look at IIoT in the transportation industry.

SNCF (the French National Railway Company) had many obstacles updating command and control systems in a highly heterogeneous environment. These obstacles included diverse needs, different generations and suppliers of products, a mix of technologies, station renovations, and new projects underway.

A system was needed that could handle SNCF’s progressive ramp-up and respond to evolving needs. HTTProject provided a flexible solution: local Ignition Edge licenses were used to collect data from programmable logic controllers (PLCs) for the different business lines, and all sites were integrated with Sparkplug B MQTT Modules in a cloud data center.

What resulted was a unified system that gave SNCF the flexibility it needed. “The concept of a ‘single source of truth’ really surprised us with its power,” says Mikael Ledain, an HVAC Referent for SNCF. In its new system, applications can be created that can be adapted to all terminals, and over 250 users can remotely view/control installations. This use case is a great example of how IIoT solutions can facilitate a company’s growth.

3. Water/wastewater: IIoT solutions that speed up data access

For the last of our IIoT examples, we’ll dive into how a water agency solved multiple problems with a design that was unconventional for its industry.

The Waterford Township Department of Public Works (DPW) manages 715 miles of water and wastewater sewer in Oakland County, Michigan. It needed to replace aging components with a fast, scalable solution, in order to monitor critical infrastructure.

With the DPW’s outdated system, there was a rising risk of irreplaceable hardware failures, in addition to other major problems. For example, high latency was hindering its operators’ ability to detect issues in the field with any sort of accuracy.

Perceptive Controls solved these problems with a cloud-hosted Ignition MQTT infrastructure. iFix human-machine interface (HMIs) were replaced with Ignition Vision clients, and the radio network was upgraded to 4G LTE cellular modems.

As a result, the DPW gained faster access to its data, going from multi-minute cycles to sub-second latency. Additionally, with the friendlier user interface of the new HMIs, it’s easier for operators to catch issues in the field early on. The DPW also saw significant cost savings, with decreased travel time and a $10k decrease in support costs.

– This originally appeared on Inductive Automation’s website. Inductive Automation is a CFE Media and Technology content partner. Edited by Morgan Green, associate editor, CFE Media and Technology, mgreen@cfemedia.com.

Original content can be found at Inductive Automation.

Author Bio: Jennifer Faylor is a content writer at Inductive Automation, the creator of the Ignition industrial application platform for SCADA, HMI, IIoT and more.