lloT For Engineers—Sensing, Connectivity, Analytics
The Industrial Internet of Things (lloT)—as a means to secure connectivity and contextualized intelligence—adds value in the worlds of process automation, enterprise-assets management and industrial-IT-based business operations. It’s exactly those worlds that readers of CFE Media’s engineering titles inhabit.
The industrial Internet of “things” refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations, which, combined with middleware and a service orientation, allow machine-to-machine communication among computers, embedded processors, smart sensors, actuators and mobile devices with limited human intervention.
In a plant environment, therefore, lloT efforts might start with pervasive use of sensors and wireless to allow monitoring of things like pumps, motors, steam traps, heat exchangers, valves and piping systems. The same lloT principles applied in production plants deliver similar benefits to buildings and surrounding infrastructure.
In process automation, by substituting open-computing for proprietary standards, lloT-based integration encompasses legacy systems, to improve productivity of existing processes without major operations disruptions.
It isn’t just about hardware, firmware and middleware, however. It’s about powerful applications made possible by connectivity. For example, an electronics-goods maker like Hitachi sees the initial lloT impact in “dynamic scheduling, production quality and smart maintenance.”
GE Chief Digital Officer Bill Rush projects the industrial Internet as a $225 billion market the next four years, including $125 billion in software applications. He also sees a potential 10 percent improvement in productivity from the use of big data and predictive analytics.
What is the solution?
- In process control & automation, lloT technologies that include smart instrumentation, HMI, SCADA and “cloud” modalities, improve quality and real-time decision making.
- For enterprise-assets management, connecting complex, disparate machines and equipment to operations and enterprise systems enables machine-to-machine connectivity, predictive, asset-based maintenance and secure monitor and alarm.
- Further, software as a service contributes to a changing paradigm for application implementation, management and use. Software as a service paired with ubiquitous connectivity allows industry to quickly and securely tap into the latest application capabilities.
- When it comes to business operations, real-time insight based on contextualized information and data analytics allows rapid, reasoned response to demand changes. Other impacts, such as for example, product-design influence, are even more strategic.
From engineering-design or systems-integration projects, lloT-based technologies and applications evolve into solutions that support specific engineering management roles in discrete-manufacturing and production-process industries. This is the story that CFE Media engineering titles will be tracking in the lloT for Engineers supplement series.