The interest in and adoption by companies of enabling technologies from industry 4.0 is growing.
For IoT and the Industrial Internet of Things, 2021 was a year of significant results, with +22% compared to the previous year. To invest in sixth enabling technology of National Conversion Plan 4.0 they are mainly large Italian companies. In 2021, 69% of these started at least one industrial IoT project, while only 27% of SMEs did the same.
In this article we talk about the Internet of Things and advantage of the use of this technology in the industrial field, trying to understand how one industrial system 4.0.
What is IoT and Industrial IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) allows you to connect any type of device with an electronic interface to another. These wireless or wired devices are connected to each other via the Internet.
Industrial IoT (IIoT) is a subcategory of IoT that uses the principles ofthe Internet of Things in industrial environments. In short, the elements are the same, their use varies. IIoT is often used in Industry 4.0, a term that defines the current trend in the manufacturing sector to use a combination of enabling technologies which in fact IoT, Big Data And Cloud.
The goal? The combination of the potential of IoT technology with data analytics makes it possible to automate, predict and prevent as well as increase productivity and simplify processes. Production sites can make quick decisions based on large amounts of IoT data from connected machines and equipment.
Uses of the Industrial Internet of Things
The main potential of the technology is linked to the many areas in which it can be used:
- Smart Factory – Production progress control, workplace safety, maintenance, material handling, quality control, waste management
- Smart Logistical – Traceability tracking / monitoring through RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags and sensors, cooling chain monitoring, security management in complex logistics centers
- Smart Life cycle – Improvement of the new product development process (eg through data from previous versions of related products), end of life management, supplier management in the development phase of new products
In support of the industrial IoT, the technology of cloud offers innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale. It is one of the enabling technologies often combined with IIoT, which relates to the provision of computer services hosted on the Internet. These services are divided into three main categories: Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Thanks to cloud computing, it is easier to configure one or more virtual networks to access, control and integrate various systems and devices, including IIoT, MES, ERP and other internal or external systems, and there is no need to buy and maintain internal servers.
IIoT platforms and MES software
An IIoT platform covers a number of features similar to the “generic” IoT platform, but is optimized for industrial use.
According to Gartner, an industrial IoT platform “a set of integrated software features“It improves the asset management process and plant control.
To manage the data generated by production operations, many technology vendors and startups develop platforms to leverage and manage the information generated by edge devices. Some of these also offer analysis options, in some cases enhanced by the integration of technologies such asartificial intelligence and machine learning.
But do not make the mistake of thinking that an IIoT platform is the same as one modern MES platform. MES applications overlap IIoT platforms in some respects, but offer additional functionality. A modern MES it can duplicate some of the features of the IIoT platform, including for example the automatic learning capability, but instead of being a generic tool, it is able to deliver analyzes based on parameters specifically identified based on the needs of the facility.
Furthermore, the implementation of a MES system requires a necessary adaptation to the company’s IT architecture, which acts as a bridge between the plant’s physical equipment and the company’s systems, creating a total integrated And customized.
MES and IIoT are both modern solutions for one better production. Each of these collects and processes data in real time to improve the efficiency of the plant throughout the production process.
Both solutions therefore have the same goal: what makes them so different?
An IIoT platform manages only part of the data, which in turn is capable of analyzing MES software. The first is an extremely efficient solution for monitoring machines, extracting data and making quick adjustments. But even though machines and equipment represent the most important and consistent element of the production activity, we know very well that production does not only consist of machines, but involves many other resources.
An MES solution is much more complete because it covers many more areas of interest than an IIoT platform that collects and analyzes data concerning not only the facilities but also:
- personnel management
- resource management
- management of maintenance activities
- document handling
A MES is the complete solution that connects all the activities that take place in the production plant.
MES and Industrial IoT
A state-of-the-art Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is capable of connecting to any system in the cloud and therefore also to any IoT device. In the event that an MES itself runs in the cloud using cloud computing, it is called Cloud MES.
The MES software can then run on a virtual server in the company’s private cloud. The biggest advantage is the ability to increase computing power and storage space as needed to accommodate any changes in the size and operation of the business. The virtual network in the enterprise cloud is used to connect all IoT devices used at the industrial level, enabling these devices to be interconnected and with MES. It is therefore not necessary for IoT devices and MES software to be in the same physical location: MES and Industrial IoT can become distributed systems to connect even geographically dispersed production facilities.
To learn more about the role of MES software in Industry 4.0, read on this article.