Living on the Edge!

By Jason Paquette, Product Marketing Manager, InSource Solutions

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). IIoT has been picking up a lot of headlines over the past few years in the industrial automation space and there is good reason.

McKinsey estimates that IoT (Internet of Things) will have an economic impact of up to $6.2 trillion by 2025 and the potential to drive productivity across $36 trillion in operating costs, in multiple industries, including manufacturing, health care, and mining.

IIoT is often thought of as a revolution that is changing the face of industry. In reality, it is an evolution that has its origins in technologies developed by visionary automation suppliers more than 15 years ago. As global IIoT standards mature, it may well take another 15 years to realize its full potential. The benefit lies in the ability to link automation systems with enterprise planning and scheduling in order to make smarter business decisions.

You can basically break down an IIOT architecture into 5 components:

  1. Data Acquisition
  2. Communication technologies
  3. Integration with existing data acquisition systems
  4. Edge, or cloud computing
  5. Security

IIoT is changing the way industrial organizations generate, collect, and analyze data. Data can now be generated faster and in greater volume than ever before. This requires today’s plant information infrastructure to evolve. One part of this new infrastructure will be intelligent edge devices.

With edge computing and analytics, data is processed near the source (the edge), with sensors, controllers, machines and gateways. The data can be used to inform local machine behaviors as it is filtered and integrated. The edge systems may decide what gets sent, where it gets sent and when it gets sent.

There are some truly unique inexpensive products on the market to capture and move the data along to the cloud. Advantech’s new wireless WISE I/O modules can be used without needing to go through a gateway to provide the information. This means deployment is easier because WISE I/O modules can gather the data from any low latency third-party Modbus/RTU slave devices and connect to an existing network.

Stratus offers another innovative product: the ztC Edge. The ztC Edge is a zero-touch, fully virtualized and self-protecting computing platform specifically designed for industrial edge environments. It has built-in remote management and is user-installable in less than an hour. ztC Edge significantly reduces the IT burden for virtualized computing at the edge. Its self-protecting and self-monitoring features reduce unplanned downtime and ensure availability of business-critical industrial applications.

Placing intelligent products like the Advantech WISE modules or the Stratus ztC Edge at the edge addresses problems often encountered in industrial settings. These problems include low bandwidth, latency, and the perceived need to keep mission critical data on site to protect Intellectual Property.

As you think about digitizing and transforming your industrial operations or your products and services, pay special attention to the edge. Consider the optimal location for analysis, decision-making, and control, and the best way to distribute these among edge devices, the network, the cloud, and other connected systems.

To learn more about the Industrial Internet of Things, please visit our IIoT website here.