The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure, is described as a key enabler for manufacturing intelligence. Christine Filippis reports.
Industrial IoT technologies can help manufacturers lay a foundation for a highly secure, connected enterprise using standard unmodified Ethernet to connect people, processes, data and things.
Manufacturing intelligence bridges the gap between the production and corporate environments helping manufacturers achieve greater productivity, better utilisation of assets and improved decision making, by providing information access in a contextualised manner, organized by user roles.
According to Rockwell Automation's APAC software business manager Mukund, improving connectivity across enterprise operations will provide the platform to integrate information across business systems and the plant floor.
"While established production software is mature technology, the Internet of Things delivers a whole new value proposition to the industrial market," Makund told Manufacturers' Monthly.
"Industrial IoT technologies can help industrial customers lay a foundation for a highly secure, connected enterprise using standard unmodified Ethernet to connect people, processes, data and things. This ultimately drives greater productivity and sustainable competitive differentiation."
Dean Tresidder, software solutions architect with Rockwell Automation says one of the key performance indicators for production software is presenting information in real time, in a meaningful way based on the role of the user.
"Data modelling provides an object oriented view of data from variety of sources enabling users to access data based on terminology they use in their roles," Tresidder said.
Tresidder says modelling data around Asset Models or ISA S95 hierarchies, while abstracting data source complexities from users, provides an environment for ad-hoc analysis, benchmarking of performance across multiple equipment of the same type or across units, while consolidating data about an entity (asset/unit/site) within a single view (even though the data may come from multiple systems).
"This provides better insight. Such a connected enterprise allows the entire supply chain to be connected giving manufacturers the competitive edge required to analyse, forecast and rapidly respond to changing market demands."
Tresidder said mobility is a big driver in the capabilities of production software in the connected enterprise.
"Our customers are demanding mobility; they need to be kept up to date on any type of device. It's being more selective about how we consume that information and delivering information to the consumer in the right format for the device they are using."
"Industrial IoT technology helps manufacturers to access information that is not limited to location-- information can be delivered on any device allowing for a new level of mobility for manufacturers," Tresidder said.
Tresidder admits some manufacturers see establishing a connected industrial enterprise as an overwhelming challenge. But he says they must address that challenge if they hope to remain competitive in the current marketplace.
"Adaptability is the key performance indicator for the successful integration of information and infrastructure in an organisation.
"Our manufacturing intelligence software, FactoryTalk Vantage Point for example, allows for role based reporting of information and by utilising a consistent user interface, our customers find that it is easier to navigate and customise according to their user profile."
"To provide manufacturers with increased adaptability and mobility, the latest version of FactoryTalk utilises an open standard presentation format, Html 5. This is a platform that supports all devices, from iPad through Android.
He says advances in production software are driven by the maturity of standards and the ability to report across different platforms and devices. "Html 5 can deliver this information regardless of the platform that manufacturers are using."
Proliferation of data
As a result of the connected enterprise, Makund says the amount of manufacturing data available is growing exponentially.
"For manufacturers to achieve flexibility and efficiency, they must have the capabilities to manage, visualise and analyse 'big data' in real time." He says this involves combining all the data from all the systems that run the plant.
"Utilising cloud based infrastructure delivers the computing power and mobility requirements for manufacturers to have the ability to process and store big data.
"Customers are leveraging this already, setting up private infrastructure clouds. Cloud technologies are enabling new business models and value chains as manufacturers are looking to leverage these technologies to optimise their people assets, leveraging expertise within and outside their organisation through collaborative models," said Mukund.
To address some of the IT infrastructure needs of industry, Rockwell Automation recently introduced its Industrial Data Centre offering, which is engineered specifically to help manufacturing and production companies take advantage of fully virtualised environments.
"The Internet of Things is delivering capabilities that disrupt the nature of production software as we know it. It is making software one of the key investments for manufacturers that want to generate additional productivity and optimise their operations," concluded Mukund.