The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the hot topic at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing show in Anaheim, Calif. this week. At the Manufacturing Innovation Trends panel at Center Stage on Tuesday, opening day of the show, a group of four manufacturing pros discussed the biggest challenges to manufacturing and explained the technology that is working to meet those challenges. The subject that took up most of the 45 minute panel centered on IIoT -- either directly or the ramifications of the technology leap.
Panelists included Randy Durick, vice president of the Network & Interface Division at TURCK; Jeff Perry, director of the Webench Design Center at Texas Instruments; Chris Kenney, senior design engineer at Honeywell; and Martin Mason, executive director at Maxim Integrated.
All four panelists discussed the overwhelming impact of IIoT. Mason noted that he knows one CEO who flat out told his engineering staff, "Don't make any products that cannot be connected to the Internet." Panelists described how IIoT is making manufacturing more efficient, and they explained how a constant flow of data helps the control team improve optimization, product quality, maintenance, and overall plant productivity.
The panel also discussed the problems that come with IIoT. For one, it will take years for the manufacturing industry to sort out standards for industrial IIoT. The lack of standards is currently making interoperability between equipment from different vendors a challenge.
Another threat facing IIoT is cyber security. The Sony hack was discussed as a warning to anyone deploying IIoT, as well as the Stuxnet virus that crashed the Iranian nuclear facility. Panelists explained how they're seeing a pattern of hackers staying a step or two ahead of the Internet network protectors. Mason cautioned that perhaps too much emphasis and money is being placed on cyber security. "When it comes to the security of an electrical substation, a cheap iron rod thrown over the fence may be just as damaging as a cyber attack," said Mason.
The panelists were chosen because they were all finalists in the Golden Mousetrap Awards. Later Tuesday evening, two of the panelists won in their categories, Maxim Integrated and Texas Instruments.
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine, Chile Pepper.