Factory automation and the Internet of Things

With the increase of ethernet and Wi-Fi as the standard for factory floor connectivity, automated factories are moving closer to having an Internet of Things (IoT).

Along with intelligent sensors and machines, IoT encompasses cloud computing, analytics, Big Data, mobility and universal visualization. Improved business performance, production efficiency and asset optimization remain the core objectives for manufacturers to implement this technology.

In a manufacturing context, these objectives are achieved by gathering data locally from the myriad of sensors, devices, machines and other entities operating on the plant floor. This data is then made available globally via a cloud or similar infrastructure platform to all sanctioned parties for use in analytics, optimization, and a variety of other applications.

The benefit of having an Internet of Things on the factory floor is the ability to constantly monitor production data. While the machines in an automated factory are becoming as efficient as they can be, by collecting production data, room for improvement can be found in the system as a whole, rather than at each individual machine or station. A further benefit is the ability to monitor and troubleshoot the manufacturing process remotely at anytime because of the constant connection to the Internet.

Ethernet and wireless networks will form the bedrock of the IoT architecture and, fortunately, many specifiers are already familiar with their use in production equipment. In general, plant floor sensors, devices, machines and systems will be required to transmit their data to the cloud computing platform for analysis and then be capable of accepting real-time feedback from the analytical engine(s) for performance improvement.

Read more at Automation World.

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