The Internet of Things (IOT)

Since the concept, The Internet of Things, was conceived by Kevin Ashton in the late 1990s, much has changed with regard to the technologies available for realization of his vision. Ashton worried that the majority of data available via the Internet was filtered through the people who created and input that data, causing a bias in favor of ideas over information about things. He reasoned that more-useful information would result if computers gathered data about things directly using technologies such as radio-frequency identification, barcodes, etc., freed of the inefficiencies of human input, that data would also be far more accurate, timely and useful.

Industry has been quicker to adopt The Internet of Things strategies within enterprise-wide infrastructures than have individuals if only because the direct and indirect benefits are more easily anticipated. But, the concept is, nevertheless, significantly impacting individual lives beyond the cost savings they enjoy in the markets served by those more efficient enterprises.

Machine to machine (M2M) allows for both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same ability through the capturing of an event, relaying of information and translation of the information acquired into meaningful application-specific information.

So why is this vital for the Industrial Computing Arena? Interconnected wireless networks can serve to improve production and efficiency in manufacturing and assembly where machines are utilized to build and assemble automobiles, motherboards, CPUs, PCBs, Rear View Mirrors, LCD Glass and much, much more.

Here are a few examples of Advantech’s IOT solutions:

1. M2M can be the greatest asset when it comes to the manufacturing line. Let’s say that you are producing a PCB to be assembled into a finished product and would like to monitor the production process. The first requirement of M2M is to acquire the necessary data from sensors, which can be accomplished by utilizing an Embedded Automation Computer (UNO), Embedded Box PC (ARK) or Remote I/O Module (ADAM) from Advantech. This data could be acquired via COM, USB, LAN or Analog/Digital I/O and could include station to station processing time, lapse time, raw materials utilized, board and inventory levels and inventory re-ordering points.

2. When all of the necessary information has been collected, you will need a sure-proof way of relaying the information back to a software program that can translate it into meaningful information. This can be accomplished with a networking module (EKI) from Advantech. The EKI line allows for industrial network expansion by utilizing 10/100Mbps and gigabit 10/100/1000Mbps speeds, with both copper wire and fiber optic connections. They provide fast, reliable, stable and cost-effective transmission of mission-critical information. This enables workers, engineers, project managers and plant managers to receive real-time information, which is crucial to any manufacturing process.

3. The final and most important piece to the M2M puzzle is the ability to successfully translate the information required into meaningful information that can be displayed for monitoring or HMI purposes. I have found that Advantech WebAccess can get the job done with their Animated Graphics Displays, Real-time Data Control, Trends, Alarms and Logs. This will allow for analysis of data, determination of necessary changes and more effective management of the entire manufacturing process.

We’re all familiar with the cliché of the refrigerator that adds milk to your digital shopping list when the existing container is nearing empty or the bathroom cabinet that produces similar data when you’re dangerously low on toilet paper. While implementation of these classics has been limited, Ashton’s vision is still being realized on an individual level in ways he could never have anticipated!