It’s one thing to connect a gazillion devices across a plant, but it’s quite something else to analyze the data for direct action and optimization that delivers measurable value. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) – created in 2014 with 268 corporate and government members – has spent the past two years creating test beds of IIoT deployment that work as templates for effective use of plant data.
Shi-Wan Lin, co-chair of the IIC, offered the details of the consortium’s progress in the session Machine Data Analytics in Smart Manufacturing, which was presented at the recent Advanced Design and Manufacturing Conference in Cleveland.
Lin noted that the rationale for the IIC is to turn Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology into value by showing members how to deploy systems and get results from the data in the systems.
“The core idea of the IIC is that it’s about optimization driven by analytics. It’s also about the role of IIoT and analytics in digital manufacturing and a possible architecture,” said Lin (photo, right). “The goal is to overcome barriers for driving the development of the IIoT.”
Creating IIoT Testbeds, Frameworks, and Architecture
The goal of the IIC is to develop the templates for IIoT deployment. While the IIC doesn’t create standards or offer consulting, the consortium does show how IIoT platforms can be developed effectively. “The IIC drives innovation through testbeds and by developing architectures and frameworks to enable interoperability,” said Lin. “The consortium crosses many industrial sectors. While it’s not a standards organization, the IIC provides the framework and architecture. It provides the testbed for standards.”
As well as providing develop maps for deployment, the group also produces information and works with other smart-manufacturing organizations. “In the past two years, the IIC has published reports, established collaboration with Germany’s Industry 4.0, and published studies and frameworks, including one for security,” said Lin. “The IIC has created more than 20 testbeds. It’s a controlled experiment platform for an implementation. These cover a wide range of applications, from aerospace and agriculture to manufacturing and more.”
Using Analytics to Drive Value
The IIC sees the IIoT as a means to deliver value by collecting and analyzing the data the comes from a system of connected devices. The goal is direct, measurable value. “IIoT seeks to connect the things in manufacturing in order to optimize the assets most efficiently,” said Lin. “When applied to machines, it is expected to provide new insights into industrial production. Thus, it creates new business and social value.”
Rather than merely offering a path to connectivity, the IIC testbeds and frameworks are designed to eliminate inefficiencies that plague manufacturing systems. “We use analytics and machine learning. On top of the analytics, we look at the performance of the different operations. That includes testing quality and coordinating maintenance,” said Lin. “Downtime becomes predictive or is eliminated, and lost production is minimized. We can achieve optimized system performance.”
Creating the Digital Lifecycle
Lin expects it to take decades for organizations to realize the full value of IIoT systems. Ultimately, the value from IIoT systems will find its way into overall direction of the organization. “This is a journey to improve performance over the next 10 or 20 years. The ability to connect to the assets, to collect the data, and to analyze the data gives us new insights to optimize the system,” said Line. “We turn data into insight, and we turn insight into action. That provides feedback for business planning.”
The IIoT can ultimately be used to create an overall digital representation of product design and production, from the earliest iterations on through to the feedback coming from consumers as they use the product. “We have digitized various stages of the product lifecycle. The goal is to integrate the production cycle with the other stages of the lifecycle, thus creating the digital twin,” said Lin. “The digital twin includes production processes, engineering models, and validation data. When the product is delivered, we will continue to collect data on the state of the product and we feed this back to product design for the next generation of the product.”
As the IIoT connects a network of devices into a system, multiple systems can also be connected to share data and insights. “In the future, we can have an internet of hundreds, even thousands of cyber-physical systems,” said Lin.
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 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.