What is behind the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that actually helps industrial organizations drive profitability? It’s a combination of hardware digitization, software and analytics. This capability is a major boon to industry as it brings efficiency and productivity gain potentials to new levels.
However, these linkages between data gathering hardware, communications software and analytics engines don’t happen automatically. A fundamental underlying framework or architecture needs to be in place so that all of these layers work together.
In the simplest terms, the architecture needs to be designed to deliver on the potential of IIoT ensuring:
- Empowered operators– the use of mobile devices, cloud connectivity and data analytics providing operators real time information for better decision making where needed or done fully automatic
- Optimized assets– such as smart sensors continuing the flow of information and allowing for data to be easily gathered from the field
- Smart control– enabling tight integration between operational and informational technology ensuring better decision making for the wider enterprise
- Cybersecurity – more connectivity demands for more care with a proper OT Cybersecurity solution in addition to the usually available IT security
Benefits on an industrial scale
On a grander scale, consider how such an IIoT architecture can help boost productivity on a large industrial farm. One such farm, the Blackhills farm situated in Napier, New Zealand, has managed a 50% reduction in cost in just over a year as a result of lower energy and water consumption.
The farm’s technology consultant WaterForce, helped to deploy an IIoT solution that automated the farm’s irrigation system, providing visibility to system status and performance, and helping to operate the farm within local regulatory water control mandates. The solution was cloud based—there was no need for large IT-related capital expenditures—and was simple to set up and easy to use.
The new system was able to easily integrate the farm’s existing equipment such as irrigation and pump controllers. The connectivity of the various software products was enabled through the IIoT- enabled architecture. If the network drops out, or data replication is delayed, the system will backfill using its inbuilt historian software. Data is also transformed into easy-to-digest charts, dashboards, newsfeeds, and alerts that authorized users can access via any connected device.
Since Schneider Electric had partnered with Microsoft to provide the Azure cloud infrastructure, the solution enables irrigation monitoring and control from mobile devices, improving operational agility, efficiency and sustainability. The cloud management technology ensures that information can be quickly and conveniently shared with key stakeholders such as staff, contractors, and regulatory bodies.
According to Craig Blackburn, owner of Blackhills Farm, “Every day I adjust my pivots and pumps for a variety of reasons – shifts in the wind, rain levels, crop requirements or local regulations. Now I can monitor and control my irrigation system easily from my mobile phone, saving me hours of time not spent driving around the farm. With information at my fingertips, my farm is more productive, water and energy costs are lower and crop yields higher. I’d struggle now to live without it.”
Companies such as Blackhills Farm are playing a role in the new digital economy. They are reaping the benefits by transforming to the digital economy with new levels of productivity and efficiency, and to create new value. To learn more about the benefits from this IIoT-enabled architecture for Blackhills farm and how you can streamline your industrial operations, click below on “Partnering for sustainable success”.