Overview

The IIoT takes data from your factory floor and shares it with a server (local or a cloud service), offering greater efficiency for network use and enabling better access to and better sharing data for your entire organization. This section dives into how you can integrate the IIoT into your business today, and how Maple Systems can help you get there.

Traditional Data Transfer

Pre-IIoT | Locked

This image represents the classic ‘island of automation’ concept commonly seen in first generation control systems. The data on this machine is locked up with no way to get out. No other systems can access or benefit from the valuable information this machine is creating.

In traditional SCADA systems, when a manager sitting in front of a PC needed to know how many units came off the line that day it went a little something like this:

  • The manager’s PC required a SCADA program, which was usually expensive with a highly technical configuration.
  • The PC program sends a request for data through the entire network to the end device possessing the needed data.
  • In order to receive the request, the end device is required to run the same expensive SCADA software.
  • The end device hopefully receives the request and sends back a response with the requested data.

Using this classic configuration, the request and response travel the entire network from office PC through many routers and switches to the end device, not once, but twice, to move a single piece of data. Expand the example to multiple executives or a regional office with a few locations and network traffic quickly becomes unmanageable. And what about the cost to purchase and configure expensive software on every piece of the system?

SCADA Info Transfer | Unlocked, but Unmanaged

This image exemplifies the problem with SCADA systems. Machine data has been unlocked but it is not being effectively managed. This reduces the value of the data coming from the machine because network administrators and operators have to spend time fighting unnecessary data clogging the network and distracting the operator.

IIoT Data Transfer

Now let’s look at the exact same scenario utilizing tools of the IIoT. The same transfer of information looks more like this:

  • A critical data point changes and automatically updates the broker with its current state.
  • The manager’s software is configured to subscribe to the data point so when the broker receives an updated value, it automatically sends the new data to programs subscribed to it.
  • The manager checks their PC to see how many units came off the line. The information is already there.

There are no further transmissions because the analytic software already has real-time information about the data points important to its purpose. The end device in the factory does not need expensive SCADA software, it simply needs to speak to an edge gateway such as a Maple Systems HMI, which will translate local data into an IIoT protocol. The manager’s PC does not need SCADA software since it only needs to subscribe to the broker on data topics it wants information about. The software automatically takes in the data it needs and produces actionable results.

As you can see, a system utilizing tools of the IIoT achieves many benefits including:

  • Faster transfer of information
  • Automatically receive data updates
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased amount of open communication
  • Easier system set up and management
  • A system that is more responsive to change
  • Reduced network traffic due to eliminating the back and forth compared to traditional systems.

IIoT Optimized | Unlocked and Optimized

This image represents the beauty of the IIoT. The data is unlocked and optimized so only good data (valuable information) goes where it is needed. Communication networks are protected from excess traffic and the operator can focus on information critical to their task at hand because bad data (unnecessary data clogging the network and distracting the operator) is kept out of the system. The managed data flow fulfills the promise of the IIoT delivering more informed and more profitable decisions.

What Can the IIoT Deliver Today?

The Internet did not turn into one of the greatest inventions of mankind overnight. It grew from simple networked computers in scientific and academic labs in the 1950s and 60s before it exploded into a global system of connected networks linking billions of devices worldwide. Arguments can be made about the first company to make money utilizing these networks but history remembers it as the first ATM put into service by Barclay’s Bank (1967). Barclay’s was profiting from networked data before the rest of us could even conceive the possibility. The company could never have imagined the billions of dollars that would one day flow into mega corporations like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others some 50 years later. This next evolution of data will follow a similar course.

Much can be accomplished with IIoT tools already available today. Many Maple Systems devices have MQTT protocol built-in allowing you to publish data to a broker. Our MQTT products can host the broker right in the device, saving the user additional hardware and configuration costs. In addition, Maple Systems EZwarePlus (v.5.03.02.026) allows users to quickly and easily configure data they wish to publish to the broker. There are numerous off-the-shelf ERP and SCADA programs that can subscribe to an MQTT topic, pulling live data from a broker, and putting that data to work for you.

Results promised by IIoT visionaries are possible even without full IIoT implementation utilizing out-of-the-box features from Maple Systems products. Features such as:

  • Email notifications for alarms and data backups
  • Remote access/monitoring/control functionality
  • Data logging for more informed operation and decision making
  • Enhanced network security thanks to physically separate dual Ethernet ports.

What is possible with the IIoT fifty years from now is beyond our current imagination. But this allows us to leverage excellent opportunities that exist today. You can enjoy a connected factory today, reaping great benefits and rewards that will literally touch every corner of your business. And as for the future? We invite you to dream big.

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