Navigating the increasing global competition among the industrial landscape requires a constant balance between capturing new business opportunities and ensuring sustainable operations. Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) allows you to understand areas of increase production and efficiency, understand and improve processes, and even predict faults in processes before downtime occurs. Companies that take advantage of connected technology will thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution/Industry 4.0.
Uptime and throughput are the kings of industrial automation, and anything that threatens this is met with scrutiny. For a connected solution to make an overall positive impact on the process it is connecting, it must ensure extremely high uptime or solve another crucial issue where the tradeoff is worth it. For a reliable and robust connection, the entire connected solution must be tuned for high noise environments and worst-case scenarios. To do this, the hardware has to be strong and the software running the network has to be robust enough to handle interruptions from machines starting, as well as updating during operation.
Industrial processes can be noisy, full of vibrations and large moving objects, which creates a problem for both the machines that live in it and people that service it. Maintaining an industrial process can be difficult as failures are unpredictable and diagnostics are timely to run. To increase uptime, users are replacing manual diagnostic process with wireless ones and implementing a remote monitoring process. This reduces the people needed inside the factory and allows connection to cloud services to improve processes and store data. It can also help predict the failure of machines by sensing and detecting changes in their operational profile and allow the user to preemptively fix the issue before it becomes a much larger problem.
The connected network being deployed is often controlling something of extreme value, whether fiscally valuable, or crucial to functioning government. This creates incentives for malicious entities to attack the connected process. It seems we hear more and more about ransomware and attacks on industry bringing business to a halt which is very costly. To prevent this, security must be at the forefront. Each end device needs to be manufactured securely, include the latest protection from known attacks, and have the ability to update to protect from future attacks. A single breach is enough to lose industry trust, as well as revenue.
Factories and manufacturing plants are not static and need to adapt to new products, new processes, and new technologies. For the IoT and all the nodes to adapt, the underlying solution needs to be scalable. The number of nodes must be able to increase easily and the data needs to increase when needed. To ensure the network that is being rolled out doesn’t cause more of a headache than it is worth, you must ensure it is flexible, fluid, and scalable. This will allow the maximum long term use out of the connected devices.
To succeed in the intensely competitive smart home market, it is not enough to just develop and launch products to the market. With the continuously evolving software, security and wireless ecosystems, you must consider how to manage the entire IoT product lifecycle, from design to decommissioning, while meeting the user requirements every single day.