Plants or any other production facilities are one of the best candidates for automation by means of Internet of Things. The holistic ecosystem of interdependent devices and mechanisms that could easily go haywire on each level of architecture always wins by deepening informatization.
In this article, we want to outline the overall picture of the “futuristic” production facility and show how the Internet of Things technology could help on its implementation.
The concept of Industrial Internet of Things in action
The “futuristic” manufacturing enterprise architecture implies seamless communication and interaction of the whole bunch of sensors, actuators, analyzers, machine vision systems, video streaming, and robotics that deliver better overall performance and flexibility. IoT evolution will bring machine intelligence to the very system periphery, and all industrial machinery, including input/output devices, will support IPv6 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6).
Wireless devices with IPv6 support, including smartphones, tablets, and sensors are already used in industrial automation. It allows entrusting more functions to the new generation of powerful industrial controllers, sensors and actuators with integrated processors. Such changes allow industrial systems to reduce costs and simplify processes.
How Internet of Things helps to improve processes across industrial enterprise
Implementation of IoT technologies at a production facility allows an enterprise to gain real-time visibility, control and predictive maintenance of every asset to increase the overall efficiency and productivity of equipment .
As a result you can significantly improve the following fields of production facility, even if it’s already automated:
- Breakdown and downtime reduction;
- Quality control improvement;
- Production costs optimization;
- Productivity increase;
- Improvement of traceability at each stage of production.
To be more specific, we can cite an article dedicated to IoT development perspectives, which mentions the following list of sensors and actuators that must become IoT-enabled to improve enterprise indicators like productivity, safety, and cost-effectiveness:
- Sensor-enabled pipes that are able to detect leaks immediately;
- Smart meters that communicate local usage patterns and real-time demand to fuel the smart grid;
- Lighting that informs building automation systems on environmental and occupancy matters;
- Sensors that enable the machine performance and health self-control.
New opportunities for in-depth analytics
Powerful industrial controllers, sensors, and actuators with built-in processors can overtake some management-related functions both on horizontal and vertical levels of automation system architecture. They can clean the data at the local level and perform the control, optimization, and analytics of some processes. These devices also become sources of “big data” available through IP-communications.
Nowadays, we can notice appearance of specialized analytical solutions. Such software allows both quick and strategic solving of different kinds of operational challenges. For instance, early breakdown detection or monitoring of the equipment exploitation efficiency or all sorts of indicators that are important for a business. And you can gather key information on a constant basis, getting valuable insights on possibilities for processes improvement.
Competitive risks (as a conclusion)
The power of the Internet of Things is that, thanks to it, with everything down to the end devices, including sensors, actuators and control devices (contactors, relays, switches), can be contacted via the Internet. This access provides opportunities for integrated and adaptive automation and all this leads to great efficiency increase. IoT evolution leads enterprises to more transparent and efficient production, as well as better integration with business systems.
Almost five years ago, a company could face the risk of introduction of new IoT technologies before they are proven and tested. Now the worst risk for enterprise is not to embrace them prior to its market competitors get most of it.