Tech-savvy subscribers to CFE Media engineering titles—which include Control Engineering and Plant Engineering—keep abreast of important productivity advances with IIoT for Engineers, including the print and digital periodical, webcasts and enewsletters.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) supports optimization and reliability in process automation, enterprise asset management and industrial-IT-based business operations.

Our subscribers are highly trained operations, engineering, and management personnel who intend to improve productivity in processes for which they are responsible.

CFE Media IIoT editorial deliverables focus on best-practices implementation and application of IIoT solutions in industrial settings and production environments. Case-study examples validate the value of digitalization and IIoT to address tactical challenges and form strategies for improved productivity.

IIoT for Engineers appears each quarter with other CFE Media engineering titles. The IIoT webcast series brings presentations, panel discussions, and software demos to an audience interested in learning about solutions. Our IIoT enewsletter series covers digitalization’s impact in process automation, operations and the enterprise.

Definitions and more

The “things” that IIoT refers to are uniquely identifiable objects. Their virtual representations, combined with middleware and a service orientation, allow machine-to-machine communication among computers, embedded processors, smart sensors, actuators and mobile devices, with limited human intervention.

CFE editors say the IIoT concept combines advances in sensors and smart devices at the process level; enhanced connectivity across operations and execution; and analytics availability for decision-makers. Predictive analytics, machine learning, and digital twins already are part of the industrial-technology lexicon.

At the edge, innovation includes multi-parameter sensors, single-purpose gateways, and embedded systems that range from dedicated devices to edge computers. Open system protocols, industrial networking, and fieldbus make connectivity reality.

These edge devices and embedded systems, as well as microcontroller kits, have emerged as the means to collect data and even exert control, in many cases bypassing traditional control systems. These solutions are found closer to process sensors and actuators, acting as a kind of distributed intelligence, making devices smarter, enabling analysis and putting closed-loop control at the process.

In a plant environment, therefore, IIoT efforts might start with pervasive use of sensors and wireless to allow monitoring of things like pumps, motors, steam traps, heat exchangers, valves and piping systems. The same IIoT principles applied in production plants deliver similar benefits to buildings and surrounding infrastructure.

In process automation, by substituting open systems for proprietary standards, IIoT-based integration encompasses legacy systems to improve productivity of existing assets without major operations disruptions.

At the execution level, the point may be to have a single interface that melds automation elements and the IT network, or maintenance with an operations view.

Enhanced operations

Unlike some integration technologies proposed over the years, IIoT progress can proceed from “the bottom up.” In other words, innovation can be achieved by mid-size enterprises, and the capital investment involved doesn’t necessarily require a corporate initiative. In this, it resembles the supervisory-control (SCADA) markets that grew so precipitously in the 1990s.

  • In process control & automation, the cloud and mobility transform SCADA implementations and remote field services.
  • For enterprise asset management, connecting complex, disparate machines and equipment to operations and enterprise systems enables machine-to-machine connectivity, predictive, asset-based maintenance and secure monitor and alarm.
  • Further, software as a service IIoT contributes to a changing paradigm for application implementation, management and use. Software as a service paired with ubiquitous connectivity allows industry to quickly and securely tap into the latest application capabilities.
  • When it comes to business operations, real-time insight based on contextualized information and data analytics allows rapid, reasoned response to demand changes. Other impacts, such as for product life-cycle management, are even more strategic.

IIoT-based technologies and applications will evolve into solutions that support specific engineering management roles in discrete-manufacturing and production-process industries. How these emergent technologies, some of them already in use for years, will transform the global industrial landscape is the story that IIoT for Engineers will tell in 2020.

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