Drives & Controls Magazine November/December 2022

29 November/December 2022 SMART FACTORIES n the actual environment, either by enhancing the senses or by creating completely artificial experiences. Their main uses include: product design, space management and training; diagnosing equipment problems and performing inspections; and production line optimisation and order picking. Fog Computing Cloud computing is invaluable because it allows companies to deal with the massive amounts of data captured by IIoT networks that could exceed their existing storage, without needing to host extra servers on-site. However, the large distances between IIoT devices and the cloud can cause propagation and transmission delays. Large computation loads on a single cloud server can also result in processing and queuing delays. In addition, relying solely on the cloud for the growing number of smart devices involved in the IIoT can be affected by limited bandwidth, as well as issues of scalability, speed and computation. By contrast, decentralised fog computing pushes both data and intelligence to analytic platforms that are located either on (or close to) where the data originated. A form of edge computing, fog computing pushes intelligence to the edge of the network for real-time device control, security, and management. It is part of a shift away from a centralised approach to IIoT networks, and towards decentralised, edge-driven, yet centrally manageable, designs. Big Data Analytics As the volume of IIoT- generated data gathered by devices continues to grow at an extremely high rate, big data storage and analytics are helping make sense of it and to provide valuable insights. Big data analytics (BDA) takes vast amounts of unstructured data and organises it into smaller datasets for improved decision-making. BDA will provide different types of IIoT insights – namely, descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics. Recent BDA innovations and machine-learning algorithms are making it possible to compare historical trends with forward-looking projections in real time so managers can predict future performance more accurately. Digital Twins Applied to the IIoT, digital twins refer to the digital replication or representation of physical machines and processes in cyberspace. By acting as a proxy for a physical system, digital twins give users access to the structure, context and behaviour of machines and processes, thus providing a window into past, present and potential future states and conditions. For example, Chevron expects to save millions of dollars by using digital twins to predict maintenance problems more quickly. According to the analyst Gartner, 75% of organisations implementing loT technologies are already using digital twins as part of their systems, or are planning to do so within a year. Network Connectivity Without reliable connections, the IIoT becomes unproductive, and your supply chain can be impacted negatively. Problems may be isolated to a specific sensor or machine. However, if the same error is widespread across a factory, then a network issue is likely to be the cause. Diagnostic tools can help to troubleshoot such problems. For example, Antaira’s industrial switches have a built-in diagnostic function called VeriPHy that can help to locate possible faults in cabling. And our Web-based network management suite gives administrators the ability to monitor and manage connected devices remotely on the LAN, including lists with logs and topology images. It can locate device connectivity issues and troubleshoot each in real-time to reduce unplanned downtime. Industrial Internet of Everything The IIoT is a broader, more holistic Internet of Things, defined as a“networked connection of people, process, data, and things”in one vastly distributed ecosystem. The IoT, by contrast, refers only to physical objects or devices on more centralised platforms. The IoT includes M2M (machine-to-machine) communications. The IIoT takes this further by encompassing P2M (people-to-machine) and P2P (people-to- people) capabilities. Still in its infancy in industrial applications, the IIoT will require a high level of standardisation and interoperability to move forward. Device Cybersecurity The increasing use of wireless connections in industrial facilities has expanded the attack surface for cyber-threats. In addition, IIoT components and devices such as industrial routers and Ethernet switches, are not usually safeguarded against cyberattacks like other network tools, making them vulnerable. Another ongoing concern is that the convergence of IT and OT may allow attackers to enter the OT environment via an organisation’s IT infrastructure. While “industrial-grade”network devices are designed to withstand moisture, vibration, shock, corrosion and high EMI, they often don’t provide built-in security. There are, however, ruggedised devices that are strengthened to withstand both industrial environments and cyber-threats. For instance, Antaira’s ARS-7235-ACWAP/router provides advanced encryption, temporal key integrity protocol, multiple wireless security options, network authentication, pass-phrases and more. n Networking connections are a vital aspect of the Industrial Internet of Things