Table of Contents
Future of Internet of Things in Industrial Automation
One of the fundamental requirements for the smooth functioning of a manufacturing plant is the presence of machine-to-machine communications (M2M). Industrial plants implement M2M communication networks to control, monitor and automate manufacturing processes. Traditionally, cables and wired technology have been used to connect machines on the plant-floor. However, with the development of technology, the use of wireless technologies is gaining importance. This report describes the types of wired and wireless networks used to enable communication on the plant-floor. It also explains the growing trend towards the development of the Internet of Things in the manufacturing set-up.
M2M Technologies are Fundamental to Smart Manufacturing
A manufacturing plant is typically located over a large area and operates multiple machines which are impossible to manage without automation. The smooth functioning of a manufacturing plant, therefore, requires the development of an automated plant-floor with connected machines that receive and respond to orders from central control systems and human machine interfaces. The presence of connected machines can promote faster identification of faults on the plant-floor, provide transparency about the status of various processes, and keep manufacturers informed, thereby helping accelerate intelligent automation of industrial processes. Advances in machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies have allowed manufacturers to become even more productive and efficient in their operations via better use of machine data to make operational decisions. Efficient M2M communications is the first step towards achieving two central objectives in a manufacturing plant:
• To transmit information for control of devices on the plant-floor
• To collect data about the various processes on the plant-floor
M2M Opportunities to be Developed in Smart Manufacturing
This analysis investigates the basic M2M infrastructure necessary to integrate more intelligence into manufacturing processes in industrial control systems. Frost & Sullivan anticipates that industrial automation (IA), particularly next-generation IA processes, will be an area where information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) domains’ convergence will progress further and lead to an industrial Internet of Things. The Internet of things refers to the creation of an automated environment where wired and wireless technologies allow machines to communicate with each other and complete tasks, without the need for human intervention.
Substantial development work remains necessary, from standardisation and interoperability efforts on networks, protocols, and interfaces, to security frameworks around increasingly mission-critical infrastructure. There is significant adjustment in the information technology and communications (ICT) community to capture such opportunities, as vendors and service providers transform their traditional capabilities to fit the demands of a connected and smarter industry.
In this report, Frost & Sullivan examines the application of M2M communications in the manufacturing sector. It has used both primary and secondary sources of information to compile this report.
It will analyse some of the older technologies, such as the use of wired networks in plants, and will also discuss the advantage of using newer technologies, such as wireless and cellular technologies.
Frost & Sullivan will also describe how the manufacturing sector can improve connectivity on the plant-floor and highlight the key stakeholders involved in this process. In conclusion, it will provide a snapshot of the development of Internet of Things in the manufacturing sector and the evolution of smart manufacturing plants for the future.
Connectivity on the Plant-floor
The types of connectivity in a manufacturing plant can be differentiated into three tiers depending on its functionality. The chart on slide 10 is a representation of how machines are connected on the plant-floor (Tiers I and II).
Networks have to be adopted to pass on information or controls from the master Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Distributed Control System (DCS), and Human Machine Interface (HMI) to the various slave PLCs on the plant-floor. Slave PLCs also report to master PLCs about the production process on the plant-floor, alerting the system in case of an irregularity. HMI is used to provide any input from workers on the plant-floor to alter or correct any process initiated by the control system. This type of connectivity is generally enabled by wired cables or networks, such as backbone Ethernet, RS 232 cables, or industrial Ethernet.
Connectivity is also used to transmit orders from the slave PLC’s to field devices, such as motors, drives, sensors, actuators, and other input/output devices. Field devices that are directly involved in the production of the material, react to these orders and thereby ease the manufacturing process.
Connectivity between the controllers and field devices is established using fieldbus systems such as Profibus, Modbus, and DeviceNet. Increasingly, there is also a need for manufacturers to consider the possibility of installing wireless solutions or wireless sensor networks. This is important to connect the plant-floor with sensors and other field devices, which are not easily accessible with wired networks.
Connectivity is also used in the manufacturing plant for activities that are not directly related to the production process, such as inventory tracking, fleet tracking, asset management, security alarms, and the operation of mobile devices.
Some of these functions were implemented traditionally using RFID tags. Today, manufacturers can also use cellular networks (3G, 4G, and LTE) for wide area communication, Wi-Fi to support the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, and wireless radio frequencies (e.g., ZigBee) for short-range communication within the plant.
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