Many organisations, pundits and ourselves at the LX Group have discussed various aspects of what is generally termed the “Internet of Things” with great enthusiasm. And there’s many good reasons to be interested in this new level of technology. However from an external viewpoint, many people are still concerned that this “Internet-connected devices” is just a fad, being proposed by boffins and experimenters to automate their coffee machines or send a tweet when their children arrived home from school.
However nothing could be further from the truth. The Internet is real, devices are getting connected and more information than ever is being made available from connected systems. Industries of all types can take advantage of this to their benefit – and thus the concept of the “Industrial Internet” is born. This isn’t a new, separate Internet but instead a term for benefiting from the intelligence available with new technology to enhance any industrial operation.
This concept can be broken down into three specific categories:
Intelligent devices – these are the local hardware devices that work within existing or new installations that serve as the bridge between the installation and the larger overall system. Examples can range of a variety of connected instrumentation, sensors, local user-interfaces, or any other type of data-gathering and transmission device. In the past these may have been current-loop or other proprietary connections – but instead these devices are connected by a wired or wireless IP (internet protocol) connection.
The benefits of intelligent devices are several – their hardware cost can reduce over time with increasing volumes and popularity of the technology used; with a standardised interface the deployment and training costs for staff can be minimised; and with constantly-connected devices more data about the system operation can be gathered, allowing greater levels of analysis and faster decision-making cycles.
Intelligent systems – As the sum of all the parts, an intelligent system contains the new and existing hardware, networking and computing power that combine to offer a level of synergy unavailable from preceding technologies. With new levels of data output from intelligent devices, insightful programming by systems analysts and a strong background knowledge, optimisation of any operations can be achieved.
With knowledge comes understanding – allowing optimisation of all parts of the system. From simply matching machine usage to off-peak electricity prices to detecting device irregularities in real time, you can find savings in operations, system maintenance and also learn new insights about system operation in general. By monitoring device status in real-time you can reduce required holdings of consumables, pro-actively organise preventative maintenance instead of waiting to be notified of a fault, and fine-tune operations based on external and internal factors.
Intelligent decision-making – Over time as more operation data is gathered, analysed and verified by humans – the burden of decision-making can often be transferred to the system itself. The greater the number of data channels and volume of data being recorded offers the opportunity for a higher level of prediction of future events. Just as existing weather scenarios can often be used to predict future behaviour – a system can make decisions based on captured data that fit within predetermined parameters. From a simple laser printer that can order its’ own service call when the drum needs replacement; or an off-site diesel generator that can use data such as the load from attached refrigeration systems, ambient temperature and the amount of sunlight to determine how much fuel needs to be ordered and when it is required; or a delivery truck that can monitor speed, distance travelled, engine fluid levels, location and driver history and then decide when it needs a service – intelligent decision making can reduce the number of person-hours required for any organisation, and also help predict and determine situations that may not have been possible to realise with existing systems.
The Industrial Internet exists today, and using systems designed with the three categories mentioned earlier will help your organisation become more efficient, understand more about itself, and find cost benefits in all measurable areas. However the biggest step is the correct implementation of such a system. Like any plant or equipment purchase, making the right decision first – and once – will set your organisation on the path to increased efficiency and profitability – and this is where the LX Group can partner with you for your success.
We can discuss and understand your requirements and goals – then help you navigate the various hardware and other options available to help solve your problems. We can create or tailor just about anything from a wireless temperature sensor to a complete Internet-enabled system for you. For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.
LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design. https://lx-group.com.au
Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.