The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has published the IIC Industrial IoT Analytics Framework Technical Report (IIAF). The technical document includes a complete set of instructions that IIoT system architects can use to deploy industrial analytics systems.
While IoT systems are proliferating, industrial IT experts have warned that a flood of new data won’t deliver efficiencies unless it can be managed successfully. The IIAF analytics blueprint was created to help solve this problem. The goal is to help system architects and designers to map analytics to the IIoT applications so they can realize the potential of those analytics and improve their decision making.
This diagram shows the various levels of data in an IIoT analytics system structure. Image courtesy of the IIC.
The analytics – once in place – offer a range of benefits, from simple efficiencies to strategies for better utilizing assets. “Analytics should give you insights into your business. And now you can use the insights to decide what to do,” Wael William Diab, IIC Industrial Analytics Task Group chair, told Design News. “It’s the toolset to be able to better deploy your assets.”
While the largest industrial companies have been using sophisticated analytics for years, advanced industrial applications are now making their way into mainstream industrial settings. “Analytics in the control system have been there forever. We’re trying to lay out a path for people who are just getting into analytics in the industrial space. The IIAF includes edge and cloud analytics as well as infrastructure for safety and security,” Will Sobel, IIC Industrial Analytics Task Group chair and chief strategy officer at VIMANA, told Design News. “We’re trying to educate the industrial community as to how these technologies can be applied.”
Guidance for Creating an Analytics Architecture
The team at the IIC noted that the IIAF offers a broad scope of requirements for industrial analytics applied to IIoT systems. It shows IIoT system architects the steps involved in developing analytics with state-of-the-art information, including definitions and information flows that show how the technologies can be applied to the applications.
Guidance is provided on how and where to deploy industrial analytics based on the characteristics of the applications and outcome expectations. In addition, the IIAF looks at emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and big data which are expected to play a growing role in industrial settings.
Change Management May Need to Come First
Bringinig advanced analytics into the industrial space is not a simple matter of deploying technology. Successful deployment requires an across-the-board buy-in. “The first step in deploying systems in manufacturing involves cultural changes. You’ll experience resistance; human factors will come into play,” said Sobel. “A lot of shops won’t buy into analytics until they can see the change, and they won’t see the change until the adopt it. It’s difficult to get them to change.”
Overcoming change-management hurdles can be a matter of education. “If the business objectives are well understood, and the technology is well understood, then the change shouldn’t be hard,” Eric Harper, IIC Industrial Analytics Task Group chair, IIC Steering Committee member and senior principal scientist at ABB, told Design News. “On the IT side, we have the tendency to say, here’s our technology regarding software-defined networks. It would be great if you used it. But the real question is what is the use case and the business case?”
Harper notes that he IIAF was developed in part to address change management needs and help companies define reasons for adopting analytics. “The IIAF spells out the capabilities and explains how you can utilize it,” said Harper. “It shows how you can improve efficiency. That clarity should accelerate the adoption of analytics across the board.”
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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.