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.
- IIoT has many meanings, as there is no single authority that defines it
- No single protocol addresses all use-cases, particularly with wireless
- Plant-floor-to-executive-office data-integration is necessary for the IIoT to be a reality
- 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.