Prepare your plant for the “Internet of Things” — the proliferation of digital devices that promises to revolutionize industrial production through the ubiquitous interconnectivity of the Internet Protocol (IP).
Many of these “things” already are operating on the plant floor. Today, IP-enabled microprocessors — the brains inside digital devices — seamlessly connect conventional automation equipment such as I/O modules and variable-frequency drives. But the true catalyst behind the transformation of the industrial landscape is the explosive growth of digital devices adopted from other disciplines.
Video cameras, RFID readers, digital tablets, security swipe cards — these open-standard, IP-enabled devices and others are helping manufacturing and process operations reach new heights of production quality, efficiency, security and safety.
Even more powerful technological trends will drive the expansion of the Internet of Things deeper into the industrial fabric. Those factors include the unprecedented ability to combine hardware and software over industrial Ethernet for ever-greater levels of performance and connectivity. Add to that the exponential increases in processing power, storage and bandwidth available at lower costs. Then there’s the emergence of mobile and cloud computing, along with the ability to analyze big data and turn it into actionable information.
To get full benefit of this intelligence, all devices within a plant need to talk with one another, as well as those at the enterprise level, using a unified networking infrastructure that is IP-centric. That’s because only Internet Protocol suite — the world’s defining network technology — can ensure the scalability and harmonious coexistence of the Internet of Things, and support their innovative services.
Enter Industrial IP. Today and in the future, all industrial networking infrastructures must harness the end-to-end connectivity of the IP software suite for every application.
Barriers to Industrial IP
Despite all the business advantages of industrial network convergence, a proportion of the automation world still deploys individual networks for individual applications.
However, there's a high cost to running multiple networks and attaching the hardware required to connect them to the rest of the IP-connected operation. And the price and complexity of network infrastructures will rise as IP-connected devices continue to multiply within plants, requiring a profusion of additional gadgetry to connect them.
The consequences of separate networks go beyond unnecessary cost and complexity. Two or three networks consume more physical space than just one, and managing and maintaining multiple networks requires more people and training.
Most importantly, such a complex network infrastructure lacks the scalability and flexibility that will be necessary to meet the digital demands of the future — and take full advantage of the opportunities.
For example, what if:
- You could access “prognostics” along with diagnostics, so you’d know not only what’s happening in your plant, but also problems likely to arise?
- Off-site experts could reduce the impact of an aging workforce by analyzing a multimedia data stream, including instant messaging, voice or video?
- Every handheld digital device in the factory could report the status of every fixed device, giving personnel mobile access to real-time, actionable information?
- Wearable sensors could help you could track the location of each employee in the factory, so you could ensure everybody got out in case of a fire?
- You had a pervasive security solution throughout your system that allowed a sensor to connect to the industrial network just as securely as a PC does in the office?
These capabilities and more will become possible because of the many intelligent devices that will become part of the Internet of Things over the next 10 to 15 years. The overwhelming majority of these digital things will naturally depend on IP because of its overarching interoperability.
However, the greatest value of Industrial IP is its ability to increase the amount of information and the level of communications associated with production processes, creating more room for agility and innovation.
Advances in IP Technology
Automation providers who've stayed with nonstandard, multiple networks have convinced their customers that separate networks lead to high-performance production.
That myth has been busted by the widespread adoption and use of EtherNet/IPTM. Instead of overriding the power of IP, EtherNet/IP puts the software protocol to work, allowing industrial producers to easily take advantage of higher-level protocols that IP supports.
Among these are functions the rest of the computing world — indeed most every other industry — take for granted. For example, FTP to send files, SMTP to send an email, HTTP for web browsing and more recent and powerful digital communication technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
Other protocols have been developed specifically for industrial applications, such as the Common Industrial Protocol (CIPTM). CIP encompasses a comprehensive suite of messages and services for manufacturing automation applications — control, safety, synchronization, motion, configuration and information and is designed to integrate these manufacturing applications with enterprise and Internet applications.
To take full business advantage of this communications revolution, the whole of industrial automation must move to a holistic digital communications fabric that supports all subsystems present within industrial applications. These subsystems will become services to operational management, with IP ensuring coexistence and enabling shared services in a consistent way.
Industrial IP can bring together automation, surveillance, facility management and access-control subsystems within a single infrastructure to reduce deployment and operational costs. Industrial IP will ensure consistency of security policy, practice and procedure. These are all done by eliminating duplicated networks, freeing both human and financial resources to focus on improving production and increasing innovation.
To learn more about how Industrial IP supports network connectivity, download this whitepaper.
New Industrial IP Community Supports Deployment
To reap the full benefits of the digital revolution, industrial operations need a holistic communications "fabric" that harnesses the end-to-end connectivity of the Internet Protocol (IP). Cisco, Panduit and Rockwell Automation have created an online community — www.industrialIP.org — where IT, engineering, maintenance and operations professionals can exchange information and strategies to help deploy IP across their operations.
Today, many manufacturers use multiple networks and disparate devices, and not all are IP-compatible. Cisco, Panduit and Rockwell Automation are united in helping companies see the benefits of deploying an IP-based infrastructure to support all communications and applications within plant operations.
Those benefits include the improved productivity and operational efficiency that's possible with seamless communication between digital devices such as video cameras, RFID readers and digital tablets, processes, systems and people — from the plant floor to the corner office. IP enables these innovative services to be applied on plant floors in a manner that delivers optimum levels of security, performance and ease of integration.
Industrial IP Online Community — www.industrialIP.org.