The Industrial Internet of Things is changing the way companies operate. Whether you have already adopted an IIoT strategy or are beginning the planning phases of how/where to begin, there are two key elements that you must first focus on.
The ideal IIoT solution will allow a user of any skill set to connect multiple devices using simple and effective tools. This solution must be scalable allowing systems to grow from single devices to hundreds or even thousands. Complicated setup, reliance on specific IT knowledge, or high recurring monthly fees will block IIoT deployments and limit a company' effectiveness.
When searching for a connectivity solution, think about all the types of devices you may want to connect, and for what purpose. For example a device that has the flexibility to create a tunnel for PLCs, web cameras, and any other device that can be connected via Ethernet is ideal. But, it should also allow them to be accessible to a variety of vendors or sub contractors, as well as move data to both on premise servers or to the cloud.
By far most companies largest sticking point to moving forward with connected devices is security, and it should be. Most IIoT solutions rely on 3rd party hosted VPN solutions that add vulnerability. An ideal solution creates a point to point, direct VPN tunnel between physical devices and relies on the latest encryption technology. Ideally, there should also be a two factor identification process.
In addition, controlling access to the individual devices are important. For instance, if you have a vendor updating web camera firmware, do you really want them to also have access to PLCs or other non-related devices?
Tosibox features secure point to point device connections. Learn more about how they can securely connect your devices.
Once you can securely connect devices and data sources, you must decide where and how to store them. Again, simple solutions are key. You should look for a database that meets the following requirements:
- Flexible collection architecture
- Can be hosted on premise or in the cloud
- Stores raw data values
- Does not require ongoing database management
- Both scalable and affordable
- Easy to migrate data out of
Each of these items is individually important for a fast return on your investment. A flexible architecture allows for your organization to use existing hardware and networks for a faster and less expensive deployment. The ability to keep the data local, move it to the cloud, or any combination of both will help you save time and money in system build-out. Storing data in raw format assures future machine learning and predictive capabilities (interpolated data will not work). If the solution needs constant tuning or management you are adding to your personnel costs and reducing staff's effectiveness. Scalability will keep you from having to replace a solution as your organization's needs change. And finally, simplified data migration means you are more likely to connect the raw data to other systems and find more ways to better your process.
Once the data is collected, stored, and easily accessible to anyone or any system that can glean value, you will need analytic tools that assist you in finding ways to increase efficiency.
Trending tools become invaluable for understanding your process. A robust trending software package should include the ability to:
- Quickly view months of historical data
- Make direct comparisons of up many data points
- Create adhoc calculations comprised of multiple data points
- Perform statistical analysis on the data
- Aggregate the data based on time intervals and measure key metrics like
- Maximum and minimum values
- Duration of state
- Ranges and deltas
- Counts and total
Canary offers sensor storage with powerful trending tools. Learn more about how they can help you gain insight from your data.
An additional feature will be your ability to quickly share your findings with colleagues and gain collaboration. Data accessibility becomes key. Mobile devices, tablets, and computers running different operating systems all must be able to access the trending tools and charts.
Once discoveries have been shared, the process can be adjusted and measured for return on investment. As ROI is realized, IIoT upgrades will be justified and prioritized.
IIoT will change the way our plants and facilities operate, and it will effect our work flows. By picking the right IIoT partners, both you and your organization can embrace Industry 4.0's benefits without stumbling through the IIoT minefield.