International Manufacturing Technology Show 2016 IMTS
Innovative IIoT technologies and solutions are slowly becoming omnipresent at major trade shows and on the factory floor from machine controllers to field devices, to software and communications.

Has IIoT Become the Norm Across All Industrial Sectors? Industry Experts Say 'Absolutely'

Industry experts agree, it makes sense to start now and to make small steps towards the big idea of IIoT. Partnerships can help the process.

Industry 4.0 applications and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions have been disrupting the global manufacturing industry since the term Industry 4.0 was coined more than six years ago at Hannover Messe. We’ve come a long way since then. IIoT is now widely recognized across all industrial sectors by manufacturers large and small and continues to develop at a rapid pace. Innovative IIoT technologies and solutions are slowly becoming omnipresent on the factory floor from machine controllers to field devices, to software and communications. Organizations are becoming more firmly rooted in the world of the integrated industry.

As IIoT makes its way into all aspects of industrial sectors, Hannover Fairs USA and our German-based parent and organizer of Hannover Messe, Deutsche Messe (DMAG), continue to further the introduction of the latest IIoT solutions into North America. We started in 2012 with the launch of DMAG’s Industrial Automation trade show and conference at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Earlier this year, DMAG combined Industrial Automation with its other world renowned industrial technology event, Motion, Drive & Automation, to better address global integrated industry business needs. A new event was formed - Integrated Automation, Motion & Drives trade show (IAMD) - which will continue to shine a spotlight on the competitive advantages of Industry 4.0 and IIoT implementations and challenges in North America.

Making its debut at IMTS 2018 in Chicago next September, IAMD will host the world’s leading Industry 4.0 experts who will provide valuable insights for manufacturers looking to launch and scale IIoT solutions in their facilities. The drivers of IIoT technology developments will be on the show floor and speaking at the Global Automation & Manufacturing Summit held in conjunction with IAMD. North American manufacturers who attend will get the chance to source and to demonstrate the latest innovations of intelligent machines and software that address revenue generation and will help them secure their competitive edge while satisfying customer demand.

To Remain Competitive - Now Is The Time To Map Out Your IIoT Strategy

According to industry experts exhibiting at IAMD next year, now is the time to develop a thoughtful IIoT strategy with clear entry and expansion points. You can bet your competition is building their IIoT strategy. At the same time, organizations need to amass data intelligence to understand what problems they want to solve with IIoT and need to make sure their organizations are secure.

“It’s important to develop a game plan based on real business goals that can be shared across the organization,” says Aurelio Banda, president and CEO – North America, Beckhoff Automation. “It’s not necessarily a physical area of a factory that requires attention, it’s more about where higher level gains can be achieved in business intelligence,” he adds. This would include harnessing data to assure product quality, reducing raw materials consumption and scrap, implementing traceability across a product’s entire lifespan and increasing energy efficiency. If developed wisely, a manufacturer can fulfill customer demand, increase ROI and stave off competitive pressures.

Manufacturers that are implementing IIoT solutions need a solid base of data. Although any given organization has a wealth of data at their fingertips, they need to get the most out of it to maintain a competitive advantage. HARTING, Inc. – Vice President of Digital Strategy and Marketing Communications Christina Chatfield recommends, “Think first about which data could be relevant, which data needs to be pre-processed close to the sensors by an edge gateway to reduce data volume and where to store the data. Then the important phase of data collection can begin.” When enough data is collected, organizations can start to formulate hypothesis and to test these with the collected data to drive improvements in productivity and overall operating efficiencies.

Regarding the need to make sure the organization is secure before IIoT implementation begins, Sloan Zupan, senior corporate marketing manager, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc. says, “IIoT adoption will continue to be slow until customers first address internet security. Machine builders and manufacturers need to first mitigate the risk associated with industrial cyber security threats. Once that is tackled the next challenge is to breakdown IIoT into bitesize pieces.”

It’s critically important for organizations to protect against industrial cyber security threats. “Traditional Ethernet TCP/IP based industrial protocols have been connected to the internet without much consideration for the potential of intrusions. Mitsubishi Electric industrial controls, such as the iQ-R Series PLC in conjunction with CC-Link’s CC-Link IE Control or CC-Link IE Field gigabit industrial Ethernet, offer new levels of protection from the sort of cyber security threats seen in recent years,” adds Zupan. Once the manufacturing environment has been protected, the organization can focus on what information should be accessible from the internet and what information should only reside on-premises. “Not all information needs to be internet accessible,’ he says.

Experts Agree On The Need For Industry Standards And Partnership

Industry experts agree, it makes sense to start now and to make small steps towards the big idea of IIoT. They embrace the need for industry-wide standards and the need for cooperation and partnerships with key technology companies and organizations.

“It is important to be a driver of technological development while embracing industry-wide standards and developing strategic partnerships,” says Banda. “For example, Beckhoff has worked with Microsoft to certify PC-based control products for use with Azure cloud services. In fact, Beckhoff currently has three different hardware products that are Microsoft Azure Certified.” Beckhoff also has participated in multiple Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summits and has been highly active in the OPC Foundation for the secure and reliable exchange of data across industries. Adds Banda, “We promote OPC technology and develop exciting new PC-based control products with OPC UA server and client capabilities. This ensures built-in data encryption and security measures for industrial users without having to be an advanced IT security expert.”

Chatfield adds, “HARTING is member of the IIC, the Industrie 4.0 platform and several other organizations that are addressing IIoT standards, such as DIN Standards, The International Standards Organization (ISO), ZVEI - Germany's Electrical Industry (zvei.org), VDMA - The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association and DKE – the German center for standardization for electrotechnology, electronics and information technology. We believe in standards and cooperation, that’s why HARTING supports many activities in so many organizations.”

Experts Weigh In On The Future of IIoT

“In the early days of the Internet, no one could predict all of the advancements we see today – from the high level e-commerce to social media to the high level of mobile device integration, etc.,” says Banda. “The same holds true for IIoT over the long run. We have a really good idea of the foundational technologies and what we can do with them, but true innovation is unpredictable by nature, especially when looking industry-wide.”

What is clear is that IIoT functionality will become standard features on all manner of industrial devices, from simple to complex and from the controller to the small field devices. Standard built-in features will include advanced condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, analytics and high level connectivity. Adds Banda, “We will also see more solutions that offer IIoT as a service. This could come not only from large IT providers, but also from machine builders, who can offer end users of various sizes a complete IIoT solution as an additional revenue stream.”

Adds Zupan, “Organizations should prioritize which challenges to address first and come up with objectives and metrics in order to justify their IIoT investment.” In light of this, next year’s IAMD can’t come soon enough. We hope you will join us to explore the many IIoT solutions that will enable manufacturers to be more responsive to their customers, to enhance their revenues and to maintain their competitive position.

Larry Turner is the CEO of Hannover Fairs USA, Inc. (HFUSA), the U.S. subsidiary of Hannover, Germany’s Deutsche Messe – one of the world’s largest and most active organizers of industrial technology events. Chicago-based HFUSA helps U.S. companies expand domestically and internationally through exhibit and sponsorship opportunities at Deutsche Messe’s worldwide portfolio of events. Participation in these events offers U.S. companies an unparalleled opportunity for business development through trade shows and conferences held in Hannover, Germany and North America, as well as in key markets such as China, India, Mexico and Turkey. HFUSA creates qualified new business leads, helps U.S. companies enter new markets and aids them in forming lasting partnerships. For more information, visit hfusa.com or contact Larry Turner at +1 (773) 796-4250.

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