Taking charge of operations

The industrial world is on the verge of entering the next revolution: Industry 4.0. This is going to change control systems architecture, systems connectivity and sensors as we know it. Tasks that had been thought of as “undoable” have become more affordable. Industry 4.0 was once a dream but is now becoming a reality
A lot of the data from devices will be analysed on the Internet and hence the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a big part of Industry 4.0. The field which relates to industrial data to the Internet is now referred to as the IIoT.
The other major aspect of Industry 4.0 is how businesses utilise the data collected and analysed from their systems. This will provide information on important aspects of machine condition, for example premature machine failure. This field is referred to as the machine analytics and forms the basis of the technology that is predictive analytics.
This article discusses Industry 4.0, the IIoT and predictive analytics in detail with recommendations on how businesses can improve their operations by adopting future forward smart solutions.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Simply put, the IIoT is the concept of connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. If a device has an on and off switch, then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney predicts the IoT will lead to a $1.9 trillion productivity increase and $177 billion in reduced costs by the end of 2020, with 26 billion connected devices.
Some of the benefits of IIoT include:

  • tracking behaviour for real-time monitoring;
  • enhanced situational awareness;
  • sensor-driven decision analytics;
  • process optimisation;
  • optimised resource consumption; and
  • instantaneous control and response in complex autonomous systems.

Using the data from machines can flow to the Internet and provide real-time information to the user about the availability of the machine or help look at the performance of the machine. The data generated from the machines can be used to do predictive analytics – for instance let the factory manager know that they have a machine that is about to fail in the next few days. This information can assist the stakeholders to be ready for failures.
Where do you start?
In this period of disruption there are a few constants:

  • the unending use of acronyms and tech-jargon; and
  • the sheer amount of information available.

Many of us experience information overload. Understandably, there is also an apprehension about investing in concepts. As well as valid  concerns about being taken for a ride by tech-experts, companies don’t want to invest a lot of money into technology or systems that they don’t actually need.
The first step is in gaining an understanding of how these concepts – such as IIoT and Industry 4.0 – and how their corresponding technologies will apply in practical terms to
a business.
There is no sure formula to success, but can you future proof your operation? Yes, but that future needs to start now.
The word innovation has become an overused buzzword in industry. The literal meaning of innovate is to invent or to come up with new and different ways of doing something. Like changing your maintenance strategy from a run-to-fail model to predictive maintenance.
Predictive analytics
In order to do predictive analytics, it is important for the sensors and field devices to create meaningful data. This data generated has to address failure modes or process information pertaining to the machine – for example, pressure, temperature and vibrations. It is also important to note that the data generated from the sensors has to be easily available
and be based on generic protocols (like https, MQTT) and cannot be vendor specific.
Once the data reaches the cloud, analytical systems act on the information and provide detailed information back to the key stakeholders in the organisation.
Visual analytics: Real time and historic views
It is important for the user of the system to be able to view real-time data and be able to make changes to the process and analyse historical data (both locally and/or remotely). Armed with all this data in an easy-to-find central location will enable the user to analyse and improve system efficiencies more effectively.
Alarm management
In today’s modern world, virtually everything is controlled and communicated to a smart device such as a phone or tablet. Therefore, the ability for the software to provide users with real-time alarm event information via SMS or emails, and/or view a history log of all previous alarms that have occurred directly to their smart device, is a must and no longer an optional feature.
Data directly into ERP system
Getting the data into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and to the cloud in a cost-effective manner has been a challenge in the past. But with the introduction of unique software offerings, parallel communication between factory floor sensors, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and ERP is now possible. This communication is classed as Y-Path by ifm efector, and allows for smart IO-Link sensors to communicate not only with the PLC, but directly with ERP systems such as SAP.
The perfect solution
An out-of-the-box approach that addresses the challenges mentioned in this article and aligns the user towards IIoT, is ifm’s IIoT Toolkit with SMART products, comprehensive services and intelligent software that offers energy efficiency and condition monitoring.
By understanding your process, it is possible to deploy sensors to “smart” gateways for more “qualified” data to a software platform that can not only monitor but alarm you when anything goes out of specification. This is easily done by comparing historic data with current data and alarming that your asset is about to fail.
We would typically start monitoring any energy (water, electricity, air, etc.), then the process followed by vibration of critical assets. ifm sees this as the fundamentals and basics of starting to utilise Industry 4.0. ifm can provide a solution from the shop floor to the top floor. Starting with more than 10,000 sensors to choose from with a combination of its smart software.
Businesses can begin to harness the benefits of IIoT and predictive analysis by adopting smart solutions. As we approach Industry 4.0, there is a pronounced need to implement future forward solutions. The ifm smart software and products create a communication between sensors and systems that enables condition monitoring and preventative maintenance. It is a smart bridging option for modern industrial operations.
From the individual sensor to an overall business solution – the ifm solutions are scalable so that the digitisation of your company is implemented in steps according to your wishes. Industry 4.0 is feasible – with the right partner it is easier than you might think.
Benefit from this chance to be among the pioneers of digital technology as well as from the many advantages.
Everything is running smoothly, standstills or even downtimes of a complete operation are a thing of the past. There will be more room for new projects.
ifm will accompany you on your way. Depending on your requirements ifm will support you right from the beginning – from strategic advice, the development of individual software and hardware solutions and their corresponding implementation to advanced services.

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