Where do we fit in with the IIoT?

Because of the saturation of messaging about the Industrial Internet of Things, a common question companies need to be able to answer is, “Where do we fit in with the IIoT?”Talon

I know, from the perspective of working for an industry-standards organization, that we certainly must have answers for this question, and I’ve come to realize over recent months that these answers can vary based on companies' interpretations and uses of the IIoT. 

Before I go any further in this post, let’s start with some realities and clarifying remarks on the IIoT.

  1. IIoT has many meanings, as there is no single authority that defines it
  2. No single protocol addresses all use-cases, particularly with wireless
  3. Plant-floor-to-executive-office data-integration is necessary for the IIoT to be a reality
  4. Technology can augment (but not substitute) an invested and capable work force—data still needs a human to interpret it and make strategic choices

From the perspective of an industry-standards organization, two key points emerge…

Open Standards Matter

Because no single protocol can run all systems and processes, the industry must have open connections that are able to translate from one protocol to the next. Having open standards across various industries has enabled many of the industrial revolutions the world has seen. Consider how impractical mass producing sewing machines, cars or steam engines would have been without standard interfaces and equipment. Standardizing things as small as screw threads were (and continue to be) the foundation of these revolutions. At FieldComm Group we realize we are a small part—albeit an important one—of an overall machine we call Industry.

Data Connections are Only the Beginning

Many companies talk about the IIoT in terms of connections like Ethernet or wireless, but the physical layer is only one piece of a much larger concept. Data connection is merely the beginning. Data for data’s sake isn’t helpful and only serves to fill memory banks and hard drives, which slows our systems.

Meaningful data, however…that’s what’s at the end of the rainbow. And that's where many companies find the answer to the question "Where do we fit in with the IIoT?"

Meaningful data is a pot of gold that serves up information for extraction, interpretation and utilization to make informed strategic decisions that drive business. For the IIoT to become a useful reality, users need to focus on more than simply where wires connect to hardware. 

Talon Petty is the marketing & business-development manager with FieldComm Group, a sponsor of the Smart Industry 2016 conference. Join him in Chicago this September. Learn more about Smart Industry 2016 here.  



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  • Industrial IoT cannot use the same protocols as non-Industrial IoT because the industrial requirements are different: hazardous areas, long distances, massive number of devices, real-time determinism, and harsh environments etc. This is where Fieldbus and WirelessHART fits. Learn more about industrial protocol requirements from this essay: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-so-special-industrial-internet-things-jonas-berge I’m personally agree a single protocol does not solve all applications but I caution about how and where converting of protocols is done. First, conversation of protocols should be minimized because configuration of data mapping is tedious and error prone. It is better if you can avoid manual data mapping for protocol conversion. For instance, conversion of WirelessHART to Modbus in a gateway takes some effort so it is only done for basic variables, most data is lost. However, conversion from WirelessHART to HART-IP is totally transparent so all data is converter automatically without any human effort, No data loss. Similarly conversion from FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 to FF-HSE is automatic, no effort, no data lost because the application protocol is the same. In this case the converter preserving the application protocol is referred to as a “linking device” rather than a gateway. That is, don’t convert from protocol X into protocol Y through a gateway and then another conversion into the system database if you can avoid it. Go straight from protocol X into the system database. That is, as far as possibly chose a systems with native support for the protocol of the devices you will use. Don’t use Modbus as an intermediate protocol. Conversely, if the device itself is actually using Modbus, don’t use another intermediate protocol, run Modbus straight into the system database. Learn more about preserving rich data from this essay: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rich-data-poor-what-tells-software-does-jonas-berge


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