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Avoiding the roadblocks on the way to IIoT
By: Heitor Faroni
May. 9, 2017 02:00 PM
Manufacturing a Digital Future
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connects the entire manufacturing enterprise - from acquiring components to manufacturing, storage and delivery - in short delivering an enterprise-wide, holistic view of the entire work flow. But traditional networks present a significant roadblock to deployments in smart factories and connected plants. This article discusses two fundamental building blocks required to start building smart digital manufacturing: industrial-grade hardened network and real-time alarm and notification system.
When we talk about smart manufacturing, we are really talking about leveraging IIoT to create a complete digital environment that gathers, exchanges, collates and enables the analysis of real-time data - from the factory floor, to the back office and right along the supply chain. Not only will this allow manufacturing and industrial processes to become more automated, but it will enable management systems to produce actionable insights across the entire enterprise, resulting in better and faster decision making.
It's the network, stupid!
In the manufacturing and industrial sectors there are specific network requirements that you just wouldn't need in an office or retail environment - so should the networks be the same? The answer, of course, is no.
The hardened network
Bringing together controllers, sensors, IP-Video and wireless-enabled assets on busy manufacturing floors or industrial sites requires a network backbone that can maintain its reliability and quality of service in the face of the heat, dust, electromagnetic interference and vibrations caused by machinery and heavy vehicles. This is why a hardened network based on rugged components is vital to ensuring a reliable and secure manufacturing network, while being able to easily expand the network to incorporate new assets and technologies as they become available.
Built to last - the network requirements
Fair-weather switches not good enough
Temperature is not the only factor that can impact the network at the hardware level. Humidity levels or the airborne particles in dust need to be protected against, and that's where the convection cooled fan-less switch models can offer greater reliability and a longer lifecycle. Hardened switches are also designed to withstand the greater shocks and vibrations caused by heavy machinery and vehicles as well as greater EMI/EMC variance.
Safety first, during and last - there's now an app for that
Safety is paramount. Automatic alarms and emergency notifications should be added to the network and are critical to alerting supervisors to fires or employee injury. A network that can collect and aggregate alarms from different subsystems to a centralized platform can provide the responsiveness a 'smart factory' demands.
A universal notification service will provide the right alerts to the right people, at the right time, enabling them to respond quickly and appropriately to a given situation. These can also integrate into other safety and security systems such as CCTV and Building Management Systems to ensure fire detection, video and surveillance, intrusion detection can be easily managed through a single - and reliable - solution.
As well as emergency and safety notifications, engineering alerts can be directed straight to the right engineers. Notifications can be in the form of audio and text notifications, be routed to DECT/Wifi handsets, or sent directly to smart devices via an app, email or SMS - providing the flexibility needed across the full range of manufacturing and industrial settings.
Made to measure - choosing the right network for the connected factory
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