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How Manufacturing Firms Are Adopting the IIoT to Retrofit Legacy Equipment
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How Manufacturing Firms Are Adopting the IIoT to Retrofit Legacy Equipment

Manufacturing Firms are Adopting the IIoT to Retrofit Legacy Equipment – The stakes are high for equipment managers in manufacturing firms: they need to keep equipment running safely, efficiently, and as cheaply as possible. One option is overhauling aging machinery, which can be expensive and time-consuming. An alternative is to refit existing equipment with the industrial internet of things  – effectively providing a new lease on life – at a fraction of the cost.

Across industry lines, the IIoT is emerging as a critical technology for achieving process optimization and automation. As a result, the IIoT is becoming the next frontier in industrial manufacturing — and companies are rapidly adopting new technologies to enhance their competitiveness and productivity.

This post will examine IIoT solutions and how manufacturing firms may take a data-driven approach without prohibitive upfront expenditures.

Less than One-Third of Manufacturers Make Extensive Use of IIoT Solutions. Why?

In 2021, Statista estimated the global industrial internet of things (IIoT) market to be worth more than $263 billion. The market will likely expand to $1.11 trillion by 2028. However, less than one-third of firms make considerable use of IIoT technologies. Technical and organizational issues are quite often to blame.

  • Technically: Many businesses are still tussling with age-old issues such as how to manage network architectures and software landscapes or how to decide which features, such as supply-chain management, manufacturing operations management, or asset management, should be supported by which installations and technical systems. But, then, there’s also the issue of installing such technologies: Depending on your application, you may want to put them at the edge (with computational power near the sensors)[4], on the production line, or in the cloud.
  • On the organizational side: Many companies fail to adjust their processes or improve IIoT systems to enable broader use, resulting in the loss of considerable value. People and procedures must change to reap the benefits of data-driven insights generated by IIoT and maximize the technology’s value. This change requires leadership commitment to guarantee that IIoT is not only an Information Technology (IT) or Operation Technology (OT) activity but a company-wide effort.

Legacy Equipment Retrofitting Can Bring Manufacturing Companies Closer to Digital Transformation. How?

The process of upgrading outdated equipment with sensors, connections, and other hardware and software components is known as retrofitting.

Cloud-based sensor data analysis, among other things, assists businesses in eliminating abusive equipment usage, predicting machinery breakdown, and reducing waste.

Retrofitted IIoT systems rely on many functional components to gather, process, and act on equipment performance data:

  • SENSORS: Battery-powered sensors measure core equipment performance parameters and operating conditions. Equipment sensors send their data to IoT gateway devices through energy-efficient wireless communication protocols such as Bluetooth/BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and others. Voltage, temperature, vibration, pressure, humidity, and sound level sensors are the most prevalent types of industrial sensors.
  • IOT GATEWAYS: Industrial sensors send data to gateway systems, intercepting and sending it to on-premise or cloud networks via cellular or Wi-Fi networking protocols. Sensor data analysis can be transferred from the server to the intelligent gateway system when data latency becomes essential. This approach also assists industrial organizations in reducing network traffic and preventing data manipulation.
  • DATA ANALYTICS AND STORAGE SOLUTIONS: Manufacturers can build a data metrics architecture using an IIoT platform or take a custom approach. An example IIoT platform is PTC ThingWorx, while the custom approach would use a provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure. End-to-end IIoT solutions include preset storage devices, analytics, and display modules that require little to no coding. On the other hand, the custom method enables businesses to design cloud apps suited to their needs and then expand with the organization.
  • DATA VISUALIZATION: Examples of IIoT data visualization technology include mobile apps, interactive dashboards, and real-time equipment interfaces. These solutions may view information collected from external apps and show equipment health and performance statistics. Manufacturing execution systems (MES), quality management software (QMS), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are examples of the latter.

Three Methods for Upgrading Machines Using IIoT

  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) upgrade: Using an IIoT kit produced by an original equipment manufacturer is the most straightforward approach to add data capture, processing, and presentation capabilities to legacy facilities, as long as the manufacturer continues to produce and maintain the same equipment. Bosch, SKF, and Festo are among the OEMs enabling industrial enterprises to grow on the cheap in this way.
  • CUSTOM IIoT SOLUTIONS: Some businesses use technology firms that provide industrial automation services to create specific IIoT solutions for their manufacturing lines. Business Analysis is generally the first step in such a digital transformation. This method assists producers in identifying crucial equipment that may significantly impact production output if it crashes or creates unexpected downtime. It is also vital to establish what sort of data could improve a factory’s operating efficiency and the best approach to gather it. An IIoT provider then builds specialized sensors, analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), and low-level software (usually bare-metal firmware) to allow the sensors to communicate data to an IoT gateway. Machine Learning algorithms are conditioned and deployed in the cloud to find trends in sensor data streams. A manufacturer could also use the API level to link the newly designed system with current enterprise software to achieve transparency on the production line and improve maintenance operations.
  • 3RD-PARTY RETROFIT KITS: In some cases, the original manufacturer is unwilling or unable to upgrade legacy[6]  gear. Should this happen, you can work with a tech firm to get the necessary parts and a sensor data management software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. The Bosch Cross Domain Development Kit (XDK), HARTING’s digital retrofit kits, and Krammer Technology’s analytics platform for injection molding equipment are among the IIoT retrofit alternatives.

Wrap Up

The manufacturing industry is already renowned for its ruggedness and active pursuit of industrial-grade products to meet and exceed demands. However, the recent convergence of the internet of things (IoT) with manufacturing technology is bringing a revolutionary change in how this industry will operate.

Following the pandemic, IoT-powered solutions will flourish in the long run by enabling businesses to minimize equipment maintenance costs and manage assets remotely. According to studies by Fortune Business Insights, the worldwide industrial IoT gateway market could exceed $1.39 billion by 2021, while industrial sensors might grow to $1.34 billion in six years.

Retrofit kits, wireless sensors, and cloud services with minimal customization make it easy to start with the industrial iot services here . On the other hand, manufacturing organizations should begin with the business objectives and identify equipment essential to factory operations when developing an IIoT project. IIoT is now poised to revolutionize the process of manufacturing, and this coming stage of development is a whole-of-business task, not merely a job for IT and OT.

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