Back when the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was first formalized (say, four years ago?), the focus seemed all on big numbers and grand visions: the billions of dollars in performance improvement—and business opportunity—to be had by connecting, collecting and analyzing all those terabytes of long-neglected data within the industrial enterprise.
But as industry has moved on to the realities of boots-onthe-ground implementation, the focus has shifted from “boil the ocean” efforts to gather all of an organization’s information into a data lake on a cloud somewhere, to initiatives more in line with the old saw about how one goes about eating an elephant: one bite at a time.
Every day, industrial practitioners see as-a-service solutions implemented quickly and easily in the commercial realm and in their personal lives; they’ve come to expect the same in an industrial setting. Any particular solution needs to be easy to buy, easy to set up, readily integrated and scaleable for future needs, and—perhaps above all—begin delivering results quickly.
This new emphasis on time-to-value (TtV) struck home for me at a conference I recently attended: Rockwell Automation’s TechED, an educational event created for operations and information technologists in the industrial software space. From CEO Blake Moret’s keynote presentation through break-out sessions and hands-on labs, the event was shot-through with themes of application specificity, easy implementation, ready scalability and speedy time-to-value.
One way that the company is accelerating TtV is with applications and appliances, such as its FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices, that literally stand themselves up through automated discovery of network assets. Zero-configuration dashboards, too, are ready to go out of the box.
Similarly, the company’s FactoryTalk ProductionCentre manufacturing-execution software (MES) applications come in fit-for-purpose configurations that meet a narrowly defined scope for now (say, for quality management on a single line). The user, however, has the assurance that this smaller solution is designed from the ground up to scale in terms of both scope and function as their needs grow.
Clearly, Rockwell Automation recognizes the new, TtV-driven project execution paradigm that will shape application deployment in the future: programming (ugh), configuration (acceptable), automatic (best!).
Keith Larson is VP of content with Smart Industry.