By connecting physical devices to each other as part of a computer network and leveraging the power of smart devices and real-time analytics, the IIoT enhances and improves production processes, enables new levels of factory automation, and allows for greater data visibility, collection, exchange, and analysis.
At its core, the IIoT allows manufacturers to make decisions based on data, and not assumptions. In this article we will take a closer look at several aspects you must consider when implementing IIoT technologies into your manufacturing processes.
Improving data competence and knowledge
Data is integral to the IIoT and Industry 4.0, providing the foundation for modern industrial processes, and all future advancements within the sector.
It is by improving our knowledge and competence in terms of data collection and analysis that we can streamline the manufacturing process, reduce production costs and increase productivity.
Cloud computing provides us with a new option for central storage and analysis of important data that requires no direct management by the user, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, edge computing allows for decentralized decisions to be made automatically through data processing in the direct vicinity of the source. The latter is particularly beneficial when it comes to monitoring and predictive maintenance.
Simplifying a complex data landscape, we can divide data into three main categories: On one end you have historical data showing long-term trends. On the other end, you have edge sensors providing and processing real-time data, and in between, you have all the data processed by the SCADA system that contributes to daily operations.
With this vast amount of available information, the challenge is often to determine how much and what type of data you should process – a choice often left for the fabric owner to make.
The key to successful data management and automation is not to collect and process as much information as possible, but rather to acquire the right amounts of the correct data. In other words: Think quality before quantity and choose the corresponding hardware and technology.
Another aspect to consider is a new trend within manufacturing related to individual requirements. An efficient method for increasing productivity and cost-efficiency is to move away from high volume production and holding a large amount of inventory and towards a demand-driven production cycle.
Although the plausibility of demand-driven manufacturing depends on several factors, this business model, when applicable, may provide a shorter product life cycle and shorter delivery time.
Additionally, this model enables the implementation of more sensors, more local processing, more wired and wireless connectivity solutions, and greater options for upscaling and downscaling without any significant increase in costs.
Choosing the right hardware
When looking to implement IIoT technologies and processes, many manufacturers tend to focus on software solutions, applications, and algorithms.
While there are several important software choices to be made in order to ensure usability and user experience, it is important not to overlook another significant aspect of the IIoT leap: Hardware and infrastructure.
Regardless of software choices, you need the appropriate hardware in order to collect the necessary data for your streamlined manufacturing operation.
Inter-connecting devices require sensors and network infrastructure, edge computing require gateways to process real-time data and AI and machine learning requires a certain amount of processing power.
Choosing and installing the right hardware, balancing processing power and costs, is imperative to the successful implementation of IIoT processes, as your physical equipment and devices largely dictate your capacity for data collection and processing.
Despite the fact that the “Industrial Internet of Things” is already a familiar term for most manufacturers, we are still very much in the opening phases of the latest industrial revolution.
Improvements in automation and innovations such as predictive maintenance are great examples of what can be achieved by implementing IIoT technologies, however, we are still exploring what is possible today, and what may be possible going forward.
Predictions indicate that the IIoT will transform the workforce and enable the creation of new business models. In fact, the potential for growth by implementing IIoT is predicted to generate 15 trillion dollars of Global GDP over the next decade.
Right now, however, we are still testing the IIoT waters. There is currently a large amount of software and hardware solutions available, from a multitude of suppliers, but we have yet to find a dominant and “complete” solution.
To future-proof your investment in IIoT, it might be beneficial to dimension your solution to support more processing power than your current needs. While this may imply a higher initial cost, it will ensure that you are well-equipped for the future, regardless of what that future may hold.
Helping you take the IIoT leap
Hatteland Technology is an experienced advisor and sparring partner for manufacturers looking to implement an IIoT upgrade.
We supply a full range of customized, IIoT hardware and infrastructure solutions, Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI), sensors, gateways, CCTV surveillance cameras, etc.
Our expertise encompasses identifying and customizing the most cost-efficient solutions without sacrificing processing power, whether it’s a PC used by operators on a daily basis or a small gateway PC working silently in a corner without human interaction.
Our competent consultants may assist you in assembling a future-proof and cost-efficient IIoT-setup dimensioned to cater to both your current and future needs.