It is possible to equip old machines in good running condition with sensors to make them more productive. Is this advisable, how costly is this exercise, or is it better to opt for new machinery?
How about a Fitbit for machines – a typical Fitbit has 7 or more sensors – GPS, 3-axis accelerometers, digital compass, optical heart rate, altimeter, ambient light sensors, vibration motors in a tiny form factor that can run for days together with a single charge, and synchronises with mobile device app which pushes the information to a cloud-based analytics software to provide your custom dashboard to see your health parameters. It’s the same idea behind the Industrial IoT add-on devices.
Legacy hardware assets are prevalent in all industries and any potential IoT solution must include provisioning solution for these assets. Some of these assets don’t have any sensor mounted – these are pure mechanical assets and not digitally connected with any infrastructure. Then there are other legacy assets which have sensors but communicate over legacy operational technology protocols.
In the case of mechanical assets, the question really is how much retrofitting is needed? It would depend on what we are trying to solve for. There are commercial off-the-shelf add-on products available today which can be externally mounted – just like my earlier example of Fitbit. These add-on devices come with pre-installed sensors and network connectivity to sense and capture a wide range of sensor data such as temperature, pressure, humidity, vibration, etc. This data is then made available to on-prem or cloud-based data science solution.
In case of legacy operational technology, there are several edges and fog based solutions that provide protocol translation and data management capabilities. Since there is custom requirement, the type of add-on device and size of integration determines the overall RoI from the investments.
What are the best ways of integrating old machines into modern concepts like IIoT?
This Interview was originally published at – IED Communications