Remote device connectivity enables the industrial Internet of things
Internet 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.
– 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, email@example.com.
www.controleng.com/webcasts has related Control Engineering Webcasts, including "Wireless Mobility" and "Were we just hacked? Applying digital forensics techniques for your industrial control systems."
www.controleng.com/CE-research See also, Control Engineering research on mobility, Ethernet, and wireless, and on information integration.