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Many articles are written nowadays on the success of IIoT implementations, or rather, the lack of it. To start, the business case plays an important role, however, the fact that IIoT is a complex ecosystem is maybe a more important factor to take into consideration.
The IIoT ecosystem in a plant, building or city includes sensors, networks, gateways and IT/ IoT back-end infrastructure, all influencing each other and affecting the overall performance. More importantly it all impacts the business case, and with that, the likelihood of a successful implementation.
For example, a connectivity network is used for multiple applications and use-cases but how do you properly calculate the returns of this investment when you just start with one application?
In addition, applications and sensors have different network requirements and since the network impacts the battery lifetime and therefor the business case, it is important to really understand network pro’s and con’s rather than taking the network selection for granted based on the wrong assumptions.
The complexity of an IIoT deployment affects multiple departments and it is key to establish internal alignment of what you are trying to accomplish and to get and keep everybody motivated.If you follow the proper steps it is possible to start with IIoT without too much investment upfront while keeping the end in mind for future expansion in case the signs stay green.
Aloxy listed 7 important steps when starting with IIoT. Aloxy has the products and knowledge to guide you through these steps in your own environment at your own pace.
IIoT is one of the terms used together with Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. To review whether IIoT is interesting and how your company can benefit, it is good to first understand the terminology and context.
One of the advantages of IIoT is to gain insights, but what does that mean for you? There are different applications like valve position, vibration, temperature and many use cases for every application, it is good to have a few worked out and at least one that has significant impact to get started and get people internally motivated.
For different applications or use cases you could have different requirements in terms of latency or quality of service. Also, longer term requirements are important such as scalability. Once you have the main requirements listed this becomes your checklist throughout the implementation and keep going back to this for every decision.
There are different network protocols, some more known than others however there is no silver bullet technology meaning every network protocol has pros and cons. The connectivity network is at the center of your solution and affects quality of service, business case and IT infrastructure, so make sure you spend enough time reviewing the different options.
To implement IIoT, often a different infrastructure is required than the existing OT infrastructure. Additional components like network server and IoT platform might be a requirement and an important question is whether the system is hosted in the cloud or on premise?
Now that the design work is done, we can start physical testing of sensors, network, integration, etc. There are different aspects to test and typically it is best to take a step by step approach to limit complexity and cost in an early stage. By following the step by step approach, every step will bring you closer to full implementation without surprises afterwards.
Once the technology is proven and the required infrastructure and architecture is clear it is time to scale up and implement the use cases in the business units. All lessons learned from the testing need to be implemented and guidelines need to be provided to the business units how to get started.
IIoT systems need to be monitored continuously to guarantee the quality of service. This is related to the sensor connectivity and battery level, network quality, data storage, backups and so forth. Whether it runs in the cloud or on premise, monitoring and maintaining the system must be in place and are crucial to maintain reliable data coming through.