January’s meeting at Rumsey drew more than 25 attendees to hear Rockwell Automation’s Tim McCain speak on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and plant automation. McCain began with a discussion of relevant terms, such as analytics, edge devices, and mobility. He said that internet-enabled edge devices distributed throughout a plant now provide a great deal of valuable information previously unavailable. Plants and their vendors are working to develop analytical tools that transform the data into recommended beneficial actions. Benefits could include predictive maintenance, optimized operations, and detection of costly abnormalities.
McCain noted that smart phones act as edge devices. Mobile apps can interconnect plant and vendor team members in attempts to troubleshoot specific plant problems. An adverse incident can trigger a chat among team members, some of whom would have the knowledge for a fix. Or a team member could search a knowledge base for possible solutions, reporting the results back to the team for a decision on action.
A big concern: finding those people or vendors with the industry knowledge and analytics capabilities to turn huge troves of data into useful benefits.