The number of connected devices that can share data is exploding, with estimates of 50-200 billion devices being connected to the Internet by 2020. Commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), this rapid proliferation of connected devices represents a transformative change for the industrial industry.
The dramatic growth in connections, including those among new devices and legacy infrastructures, has also triggered an unprecedented spike in data volumes. That data represents untapped production efficiencies, competitive business insights, and new, brand-differentiating services—but only if the data can be effectively analyzed and its value unlocked.
Intel and Siemens are helping companies realize the promise of this data by speeding IoT through innovative solutions that help connect, secure, manage and analyze devices and data.
A key area in which Intel and Siemens are collaborating to deliver IoT for industry is industrial PCs. Intel processors power Siemens industrial PCs (IPCs), helping Siemens continue to reliably meet the IPC needs of OEMs and industrial companies. These customers rely on Siemens and its IPCs to handle growing amounts of data collection and provide mission-critical connectivity between the production floor and office environments.
Siemens’ integrated IPC solutions are rigorously quality-controlled through all phases of manufacturing in-house; nothing is outsourced. All components are tested in the lab and field for ruggedness and durability under extreme conditions. The IPC solutions are designed to seamlessly integrate into a company’s operations and install easily.
As IoT grows and new devices are connected, software plays an increasingly large and important role in the system. This is especially noteworthy with regard to evolving security needs as industrial integration, connectivity and IoT present unique challenges. By working with Intel, Siemens is able to offer a range of software benefits for customers. Intel subsidiary McAfee provides software packages that are supported by Siemens specialists and help prevent system damage by hacker attacks, thereby helping to increase uptime and lower service costs.
Siemens industrial security offerings call on Intel’s and McAfee’s expertise and broad portfolio to improve reliability and availability for industrial customers. In addition, the companies continue to cooperate on the development of security products and solutions, specifically based on industrial protocols, that will enhance managed security service offerings for the process and factory automation industry. Within IoT, industrial customers will benefit from the unique advantages that connected and managed systems bring to the factory floor.
Intel and Siemens in action
In a recent example of a real-world IoT deployment, Siemens and Intel components were used in the logistics center of one of the global top five tire industry companies. The customer wanted to implement a new system that could be standardized for global use, achieve openness for later expansion, address throughput efficiency, and minimize installation costs.
Achieving these aims meant considering issues including rising requirements regarding just-in-time production, continuous quality control, and the traceability of the manufactured goods. That makes for a challenging automation task in which sensors, PLCs, drives and IPCs have to communicate to the enterprise SAP system.
The Siemens Simatic IPC played a key role in this communication process. The basic task of the IPC in the field is to collect available data as well as to control the I/O in the production line. The Intel technology-based Siemens IPC, with its ruggedness against shock, vibration, temperature and pollution, can be placed directly at the machine or in a 19-in. cabinet. With its integrated Ethernet interfaces as well as the optional interfaces for fieldbus and serial busses, the IPC is able to communicate to the shop floor level and the MES level.
The Simatic Rack IPC also offers a high count of PCI and PCIe interfaces to integrate different cards. This makes it well suited for data acquisition and vision inspection, and to meet the needs of the optional server capabilities for storage of required data. In the case of the tire company, the proof of quality, the serialization of charges for further traceability, and logistics up to the shipment are all managed by the Siemens Simatic IPC.
The decision to employ Simatic IPC was also influenced by its use of long-term available basic components. With regard to the chipset and processor, Siemens relied on its strategic relationship with Intel, confident that Intel knew the latest designs with the best fit and availability for Siemens’ needs.
John Wilhite is PC-based automation product manager for Siemens Industry Inc. (www.usa.siemens.com/industry). Shahram Mehraban is global head of energy and industrial vertical segments, Internet of Things Group, for Intel (www.intel.com/industrial).