They’re getting older & they need retrofitted smarts

Aug. 23, 2019
A Q&A on updating legacy assets with IoTium’s Ron Victor.

As humans age we acquire wisdom. But elder, legacy assets in the industrial space are less likely to have smart components embedded in them. So updating legacy assets to optimize their performance in this digital era is critical. But it ain’t always easy.

IoTium's Ron Victor

“Companies adopting IIoT strategies often find themselves struggling to connect assets that were built before the internet and weren't designed to be connected in the first place,” says IoTium founder and CEO Ron Victor. “This opens the machines up to not just connectivity and network issues, but also to security breaches.”

So what are the best methods to make disjointed, outdated industrial machinery smart? And how can business owners use the full capabilities of the IIoT to be more competitive in their industries while safeguarding against cyberthreats?

We asked Ron to share his thoughts…

Ron: We’ve seen a lot of companies adopting these approaches in a big way, particularly in the manufacturing space. In mining, costs are huge so they want better connection, less downtime, more productivity. Oil-and-gas industries suddenly woke up in the last six months. Example: we’re doing flare-monitoring with cameras rather than human personnel. And in the energy space we’re monitoring solar panels, keeping an eye on corrosion.

There has been an uptick in remote monitoring of process-control networks, too, with technicians able to know what’s going on in their network by just looking at their phones.

There is new maturity in industry, compared to five years ago. Now people are thinking about scale. And that makes sense; in many cases a skyscraper has the same provisioning as a small location. They are connecting assets with some experience, understanding the cost-effectiveness of this approach. And personnel aren’t always reliant on having the engineers in the room; there is a greater understanding of the artificial intelligence we use.  

Smart Industry: So these digital transformations are getting easier as unconnected legacy assets are disappearing from plant floors as time goes by, right?

Ron: No. We’re not seeing any decrease in legacy machines. We are still seeing connectivity by retrofitting. And with whatever new, smart thing we’re adding, there are still security issues to be considered. There is still a need for gateways to connect all these elements. 99% of business executives are still saying “Here is my Siemens PLC, my Rockwell PLC, etc. Can you please connect all of these securely?” 

Want more with Ron? Click here to join the on-demand webinar “IoT Security: The Edge Will Eat The Cloud.”