The challenges of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) tend to be similar from industry to industry and even across applications. Concerns related to security, integration, reliability and scalability are often perceived as barriers to the deployment of new IIoT technologies. Additionally, data transport options alongside related carriers, hardware OEMs, and cloud platform or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers can make vendor selection a daunting task. A clear understanding of these barriers is fundamental to bring clarity to the IIoT.
The first step when devising an effective IIoT implementation strategy should revolve around an organization’s operational environment and the devices, applications, and processes that make it up. Equipment, protocols, location, security and staffing should be considered (see “5 Key Elements to Consider Before Embracing the IIoT”). With a solid business understanding, organizations should then seek easy-to-deploy solutions that will work seamlessly with existing environments to drive the following results:
- Extend equipment lifespan: Increase the value of legacy equipment with powerful protocol conversion.
- Improve process visibility: Gain insight and drive productivity with data logging and communication capabilities.
- Push control to the edge: Scale systems management with control capabilities at the device instead of the central office.
These results not only reduce total cost of ownership and speed deployment, but also provide more robust end-to-end functionality across a wide variety of IIoT applications.
For most industrial applications, organizations have invested considerable time and capital resources to hardware infrastructure and system processes. The ability to extend the equipment lifespan of legacy assets through protocol conversion is essential to making the IIoT a reality. With a library of more than 300 industrial protocols and drivers, Red Lion Controls enables organizations to use protocol conversion to communicate across multi-vendor environments. Connecting devices not only increases the value of equipment, but also helps to speed the integration of existing assets in the field.
Once devices are connected and communicating, taking action to improve process visibility is the next step for effective IIoT implementations. The combination of protocol conversion, web serving, and data logging with reliable communication enables organizations to collect and analyze data in real time to develop more efficient processes. In addition to capturing and monitoring critical data through data logging and web serving, Red Lion also offers organizations the ability to monitor remote network performance through onboard diagnostic tools.
Many organizations also need visibility to make operational changes across multiple locations. Until recently, control for remote industrial processes was mostly centralized and required large dedicated networks to maintain communication. Ongoing control of remote mission-critical assets, even during network failures, is essential to providing a safe and fully functional IIoT solution regardless of location. For this reason, Red Lion’s RAM industrial cellular M2M RTUs bring remote monitoring to the IIoT, delivering the insight organizations need to remain in control of remote assets. Using a web-based Event Engine and a variety of connectivity options, RAM RTUs provide a secure all-in-one platform that pushes control to the edge by seamlessly integrating with existing equipment to enable data visibility and control.
To realize IIoT benefits such as M2M communication, real-time process visibility and advanced control, it is important to not overlook the capabilities of existing assets. The IIoT brings with it new and exciting applications that will require continual operational changes to reach maximum efficiencies. It should be seen as a step-by-step process with the ability to incorporate more equipment and processes at each phase. By combining protocol conversion, web serving and data logging with cellular M2M communications, Red Lion has the solutions and technology to help make the IIoT a reality today.