Manufacturing companies stand to be one of the greatest beneficiaries of Internet Protocol technologies that are being bundled under the Internet of Things (IoT) banner. But according to a new industry group called the Industrial IP Advantage that is gearing up to educate engineers on networking technology and business impact, adopting a holistic view that brings together control engineering, IT, and plant management is ultimately a key to success.
Dan McGrath, global solutions manager for Panduit, told Design News:
Industrial IP offers a holistic deployment of Internet Protocol that will be a real game-changer for manufacturing. This digital communications fabric is the way to drive IoT value and connect not only equipment, people, and devices, but also to the supply chain and customers. It is the only technology that has the maturity and an emphasis on security that can make this possible.
Founding members of the Industrial IP Advantage, including Panduit, Cisco, and Rockwell Automation, are banding together as a group to promote deploying a secure, holistic, digital-communications fabric based on standard, unmodified use of the Internet Protocol (IP). The idea is that to take full advantage of this intelligence -- all devices within a plant need to talk with one another, as well as those at the enterprise level, using a unified networking infrastructure that is IP-centric.
The group’s new website is in the process of launching a new Community forum designed to discuss trends, developments, implementation advice and opinions on the use of IP in industrial applications.
The slideshow below provides an overview of how the group sees Internet Protocol specifically making an impact on the efficiency and productivity of industrial manufacturing. While Industrial IP provides the unified connectivity fabric necessary to support a range of devices including sensors, personal devices, and robots, a key is to develop an understanding of why industrial IP is necessary for manufacturers and where the value of IP can be derived.
Click the image below to start the slideshow.
Use of an unmodified connectivity fabric based on IP technologies can create unified, secure networks that enable maximum coordination of the manufacturing process.
Going the way of telecom? It's been there since there was a telecom!
In fact, this whole "Internet of Things" mantra seems quite silly to me. We've been using networks on plants and control systems since before there was an Internet. Ever look at the age of the Modbus protocol? Now go look at the earliest RFC documents for the Internet.
What they're doing is reinventing the concept of SCADA and calling it "The Internet of THINGS!" Whoo hoo! Doesn't this concept feel new all over again?
Yet, under the hood, it's the same old protocols, the same concepts, and pretty much the same old stuff --with one exception: it's more complex. There are more places than ever before for someone to inject malware and rude behavior.
And why are we doing this? Do we need the performance of these networks? Nope. Do we need to be compatible with something here? Show me!
The real reason why we are doing this is because we now have an entire generation of people who do not understand the physical layer of a network. So they use more layers on top of existing standards in the hope that they can make things work. But by the time they realize that these higher layers only bring additional risks and complexity to the table, they'll be promoted and on to perpetrate this stupidity somewhere else.
Rob, I agree completely with the security issue. I think expanded ability with IP is wonderful provided transmissions are secure and right now, I don't think the horse is truly in the barn. The levels of encryption, if there at all, don't seem to be adequate, at least from my viewpoint. Additional work needs to be accomplished and demonstrated. Some months ago I wrote a paper for PDHonlinel.org about RFID and how that technology might "fit" into the manufacturing world. I was very surprised at comments from RFID professionals relative to security and durability of wireless signals. It's still a great concern on their part.
I agree on the security issue but it shouldn't be a stumbling block to adopting IP. I hope that manufacturers don't use concerns about it to delay innovation. Obviously, the concerns should be addressed, but there are ways to do it.
This is another rant of mine, but I'll go easy here, Elizabeth.
Security needs to be in the product concept from the very beginning.
Those who say things such as "I think security is important, but we can't let that stop us" are essentially saying "We don't know what this security thingy is, we'll pay lip service, and we'll add the features we need later, after we're on the market." That is how insecurity happens. It's like forgetting to add baking powder in a cake recipe, tossing it in the oven, and expecting to add it after it is made.
Security starts with strong and robust coding practices, fail-safe architectures, well defined roles for operation, self-integrity monitoring and reporting, and well constructed packaging. You can not add security after the fact. This is why many in the software industry have such a rotten reputation for reliability and security.
If you figure out how to add this in to a product after the fact, I'd love to read about how you did it.
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