The Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless connectivity technologies team together ideally, making is possible to improve how industrial data is collected, stored and distributed. Harnessing the information has never been easier or more economical, which leads to more effective data made available for analyzing and improving a variety of different industries.
The primary reason for monitoring as much data as possible is to more closely define a system and control it better, thereby improving profitability. In particular, for automated processes it is very desirable to capture enough information to perform an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) analysis, as this and other similar studies form the basis of process improvement. For other more scientific situations the goal may simply be to capture extensive data for detailed analysis.
Of course, sensors and devices have been integrated into control and monitoring systems for many decades to perform these functions. Classic methods have depended upon carefully engineered designs, constructed into a wired infrastructure using mission-specific platforms. Whether the goal was to control an office building environment, automate a production plant or monitor a laboratory experiment—it has long been possible to develop extensive electronic integration strategies.
But in many instances, connecting those sensors back to a suitable monitoring platform represents most of the installed cost, particularly as costs drop for sensors and for control and monitoring systems. An expanding universe of field-located IoT sensors and smart devices (which are typically wireless-capable) means there are now more options for linking field devices back to control and monitoring systems. It makes sense to take advantage of such commercial off the shelf (COTS) offerings whenever possible.
In many cases, older devices (or simply more basic devices) with limited connection capability need to be integrated into control and monitoring systems. Examples are door switches and fan controls in a building, or flow and valve status in a process, or maybe analytical and temperature values in a laboratory. End users in these cases are looking for results, but may not have the time or budget to install new sensors and integrate comprehensive traditional hardwired solutions. Wireless I/O modules can handle these cases, often in a very cost-competitive manner.
Additionally, getting the data into the hands of those who need it has traditionally been no small challenge. It is true that the ability for users to visualize and manipulate data is a task that has been bolstered in recent years due to the proliferation of portable devices. The ultimate goal would be a system allowing end users to connect to whatever data is available in an easy and flexible manner.
Today there are solutions available that let any end user easily incorporate information from field devices into a powerful data gathering system using an IoT framework. Not only can existing input signals be harnessed, but they can be readily and wirelessly transmitted into the cloud and made available to users over common portable hand held devices. This White Paper will examine how IoT methodologies can be used in conjunction with wireless technology to gather field data, and to publish the information to those who need it most.