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Innovative Thinking

Understanding the Role of Gateways

Almost 85% of legacy devices being used for industrial automation do not possess the ability to communicate with each other. Why? The manufacturers never thought about cross-platform compatibility. The percentage has fallen where modern devices are concerned, but the industry is still highly reliant on legacy infrastructure. This has made gathering data into one program an extremely difficult task.

Some companies are developing hardware and software that can work as a cross-platform channel for a multitude of protocols. Devices making their way onto the market tend to offer “smart connectivity”. The automation community has reached a consensus over the term and defines it as a device’s ability to connect to and be controlled from a plethora of devices over the internet. The challenge that still haunts SIs is monitoring age-old equipment that hasn’t reached an expiration date.

Industry 4.0: Multiplying Possibilities and Reaping Rewards

The possibilities of applying Industry 4.0 technologies to the industrial arena are virtually unlimited. Imagine a real-time connected supply chain; one where all the components, including the producer, supplier, transporter, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer “talk” to each other. Imagine if all vehicles, containers, and pallets were interconnected. Imagine if all production equipment was interconnected. Imagine if a factory’s repositories were connected to mobile and wearables.

These changes could allow companies to understand and adapt to the consumers’ needs. They could improve the inventory management and quality of products, self-adjust based on the materials and conditions of the factory floor, and even give the workers and personnel a clearer insight into the processes. 

Do’s and Dont's for a Lean Initiative Implementation

Lean methodology has gained significant traction within modern organizations who want to ensure top operational efficiency to compete with adversaries in a globalized market. The list below presents the do’s and don’ts that can be followed by manufacturers for their lean implementations.

Protecting Your Industrial Network from Malware

There is a common misconception among industrial circles regarding network security, that since their OT networks are isolated from the internet. They are never exposed to the same types of malware, which otherwise wreak havoc through IT systems. This may have been true decades ago, when plant floors were truly isolated in all aspects, but with increased digitization and onset of IoT technologies, companies can’t rely on “isolation” alone as a protection mechanism.

IIoT and Predictive Analytics

Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Digital Factory, and so on, are buzz words that every marketing executive likes to use. But their extensive adoption today has made them into applicable technologies, allowing manufacturers to achieve the universal goal of higher productivity.

IIoT and CMMS Integration

The factory floor is getting major upgrades to bring it at par with modern technological advancements that have for long been adopted by the IT industry. The increasing popularity of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and the unstoppable wave of Internet of Things (IoT), is leading to new possibilities, one that would result in synergy through integration.

IoT refers to all gadgets, hardware and software that are connected over a network. Even a Bluetooth speaker at home connected to your smartphone is a viable candidate for the “things” that form IoT infrastructure. As more devices get connected to the internet, the possibilities of achieving automation increases. For instance, a handheld scanner connected to the internet, can scan an object through RFID/NFC technology and eliminate the need for any manual inputs, directly uploading data to the shipment portal.

When CMMS solution come into the equation, extra automation can be achieved as it can act as a hub for all communications. When facilities run online, connected to the internet, floods of data will be entered into the system. While this may undermine the capacity of the system, in the longer run it will be beneficial as companies will have more data to gain insights from, which would ultimately lead to greater intelligence. This gives way to the concept of Big Data.

CMMS analytical capabilities combined with personnel who hold the ability to interpret the vast amount of data would work together to provide actionable insights to the management, giving way to predictive maintenance. The data received from each asset will also become more intricate as the stats for a particular machine’s performance and health will increase along with the sample frequency.

For instance, let’s consider several generators connected to a CMMS. The parameters for each of these assets are continuously being monitored with the aid of a predictive maintenance algorithm. At some point, the need for maintenance will arise. With conventional systems, a CMMS will have lesser amount of actionable information to provide a set time frame at which maintenance becomes necessary. However, when assets are part of the IoT framework, personnel can gain accurate know-how of the workings of the generator, and the maintenance schedule is bound to be more accurate. This results in greater cost-savings and decreased downtime.

As maintenance managers get more insights into the future requirements, they can efficiently plan the resources-on-hand. The idea isn’t far fetched as companies have already started reaping the rewards, a prime example being that of Caterpillar.

A cohesive system that runs with the combined effort of IoT and CMMS will form the future factory floor, taking the stress off humans and limiting their activities to high-profile interruptions or maintenance activities. For instance, if a forklift is bound to go out of order, the CMMS solution will notify the plant manager of its condition, from whereon, an order can be automatically placed for the required spare part. Maintenance activities can be carried out once the part has been delivered to the factory during a time when the forklift is under minimal use, reducing downtime and interruptions.

The best way to keep up with this future trend is to indulge in self-education as there is no unified or standardized resource from which one can learn about the capabilities of IoT. By keeping in touch with software vendors, learning about the new features of your CMMS and evaluating your team’s capabilities, you can reap the rewards of these innovations and boost the return on investment and competitiveness of your organization.


Interested in learning more? Visit our website www.premierautomation.com, or talk to one of our specialists today.

AI’s Impact on the Robotics Industry

 There is a considerable amount of confusion and misconception around the term Artificial Intelligence or AI, and its uses. Often thought of as something too difficult to understand, researchers have been working on it for decades now, and are trying their best to mainstream the idea into industrial applications.

Ethernet Moves Closer to Process Controls

Process industries that are currently employing fieldbus-based devices and management software can expect a surge in their bandwidth requirements as Industry 4.0 takes full speed, making it vital for them to initiate the shift to Ethernet at the host level.

KPI Best Practices

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential to effectively manage and keep track of organizational requirements, helping drive operational improvements. But determining KPIs for teams and individuals isn’t exactly straightforward and shouldn't be rushed into. Instead, a planned approach should be followed, keeping in minds the long-term operational goals that need to be fulfilled.

Smart Factory Security

Within a true Digital Factory, manufacturers have access to a variety of data sources, usually in real-time, spanning from commercial operations to the supply-demand chain. Accessibility to this data is vital for a factory to achieve goals of productivity and efficiency associated with Internet of Things implementations.