Recently, I spoke to the Food and Drink Engineering & Processing Summit about IIoT and Industry 4.0. I wanted to explain the meaning of these terms, and suggest a simple approach to getting started....
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is use of Internet of Things technologies in manufacturing. Simply, it is the use of 'smart' devices which can exchange data in industrial environments.
Advances in technology mean large amounts of data can be passed, easily and securely, using IP-based (Internet Protocol) networks. The increasing number of devices able to transmit useful information is one trend driving Industry 4.0.
The term Industry 4.0 was originally coined by a group working on the German government’s high-tech strategy. They presented four design principles:
- Interoperability - connected machines, devices, sensors, and people communicating with one another
- Information transparency - creating a virtual copy of the physical world through aggregation of raw sensor data to higher-value information
- Technical assistance - supporting informed decisions and performing tasks that are too unpleasant, exhausting, or unsafe for humans
- Decentralised decisions - perform tasks and make decisions autonomously, only delegating tasks to a higher level in the case of exceptions
The term is also used to refer to the forth industrial revolution:
Where is your organisation on the timeline?
To control systems engineers, much of the above should sound familiar. For decades technology has been available to extract diagnostic information, remotely calibrate instruments and control process conditions.
- 1986, HART (became an open standard)
- 1996, FOUNDATION Fieldbus (first H1 specifications released)
- 1999, PROFIBUS (specification for DP and PA first published)
Further, object-orientated DCS and SCADA systems allow software models of plant equipment which provide operational, diagnostic and performance information for an asset in a single entity.
So you may be further towards adopting Industry 4.0 technologies than you think!
To make the most of your current technology, and benefit from new equipment and software, determine the information you need from your systems. There are risks to implementing the latest technology with no clear objective:
Only one in five of the professionals we surveyed indicated their automation systems had delivered “all that their vendors promised.”
ARC Advisory Group
Ultimately, the right information to the right person at the right time leads to better decisions and greater efficiency. Understand the objectives and desired outcomes of your project.
It may be that your existing infrastructure can already provide the answers:
- Variable frequency drives, PLCs within 'packaged' equipment and existing fieldbus instrumentation can often provide sufficient diagnostic and performance data to make smarter decisions lot about the health of the assets they control.
- Where gaps exist, cost effective solutions are available; for example wireless energy / temperature / vibration monitors which communicate with your exisitng systems
1. Determine the information needed
(KPIs for reporting to management, performance of key assets, emissions data, …)
2. Decide how it should be presented
(to aid decision-making, show performance against historical records, prove compliance, …)
3. How this information is generated from historical and real-time data
4. Implement the necessary modifications and upgrades required
If it ain't broke don't fix it?
Recently, a PLC controlled heating system failed, product went over temperature resulting in substantial consequential losses.
An engineer dispatched to deal with the problem found that the CPU was not reading inputs, and replaced the input module to no effect....
Management of Legacy Controls and Automation
In his first post for us, Peter lays out why you should actively manage legacy control and automation systems. We so often see systems which have not been updated to reflect the current plant configuration, hindering efficient operation. Targeted small, low-cost actions can bring significant improvements.
Op-tec's main office has moved to Stockport
We've moved! Things were getting a little tight where we were, and with customers throughout the UK locating ourselves more centrally makes sense as we continue to grow. Our new home is Broadstone Mill in Reddish, Stockport. More specifically, the Stockport Business & Innovation Centre (SBIC), located on the 3rd floor of this imposing landmark....
Collaboration with Robosoft
Op-tec has, and always will be, an independent service supplier. Meaning we will always select the most appropriate technology based on your criteria for success, be that: cost, performance, reliability, or ease of integration. In the course of working with suppliers, we endeavour to develop lasting relationships valuable to both parties. This benefits our customers....
Different control system types
We often get asked the difference between DCS and PLC/SCADA-based systems, and where PACs come in to it. So here's an attempt to clear things up.
Op-tec achieves ISO 9001:2015 certification
After many years of operating with a compliant Quality Management System, we have now committed to regular external audits against the latest standard. This gives our customers and partners further reassurance that when they work with Op-tec they work with a company focused on delivering excellence through continuous improvement....
Time to upgrade?
We all have a favourite t-shirt, sweater, pair of jeans or trainers that have stood the test of time - in our own eyes at least. Comfortable, dependable and reliable, we only feel compelled to replace these items when they finally fall apart in the wash, or someone close to us takes drastic action and disposes of them on our behalf....