Don't Let Your Industrial Internet of Things Project Fail

The better you plan to avoid the potential pitfalls to your IIoT project, the more prepared you will be to mitigate any surprises.
By Scot Wlodarczak

5. Free up data from disparate networks.
Make sure you fully understand the different networks in use all the way down to the data you want to capture for analysis. Do you have Controlnet, Devicenet, CAN or other networks? Do you want to install a myriad of different gateways to translate that data to the Industrial Ethernet? Or do you want to overlay new PLCs and monitoring equipment to gather data for analysis?

This can create a spaghetti of networks and hardware (extra failure points) on your plant floor. You may decide that extra complexity and risk are not worth it, set a plant floor network standard, and explore changing out all controls to a robust standard Industrial Ethernet. There's no disputing that Industrial Ethernet is the de facto standard today for nearly all control applications. With more than 80 perfect of industrial fixed assets being more than 20 years old, I'd propose that changing to newer controls with Industrial Ethernet communications is worth the spend. In the long term, it may be more cost-effective to replace old machine controls with new ones instead of other options to gather data.

6. Avoid data overload.
I heard a great quote recently: "Sure, you can connect your toaster to the internet—but do you really need to?" Let's say you are interested in improving product quality on one of your production lines. Although it would be great to correlate thousands of potential variables to quality, you don't want to suffer from data overload. Keep your data set manageable and use basic statistical analysis to look for outlier data. You might also consider using edge analytics (fog computing) to reduce the data volume for later analysis. Work with a partner who has experience with analytic software designed to look at manufacturing data and glean actionable results from that data.

7. Cultivate a technology-focused culture and IoT expertise.
You need new technology to achieve the promise of many IoT benefits, and you need the expertise of people, vendors and partners to get there. Your IT department can hold significant expertise in orchestrating data flows in your plants, and in your enterprise—so engage them!

The better you plan out how to avoid the potential pitfalls to your Industrial Interet of Things project, the more prepared you will be to mitigate any surprises. Companies will either do it right or they will do it over. Which one do you want to be?

Scot Wlodarczak is the manager of industrial marketing at Cisco.

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