The IoT hub and how the IA triangle went to bed
Operations technology is now feeling the pace of rapid change introduced by the internet. Unlike ever before, we are experiencing firsthand how the rules change when the internet touches industrial technology.
The IoT Hub (cloud data concentrator) and MQTT (connectivity) are here with the operational industry (vendor and end user) being caught off guard in terms of understanding, skill sets required and capability to roll out solutions. This is compounded by new players from outside the industrial automation industry leveraging the open IoT platform provided by the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, all claiming to bring a change in “bottom line profitability”.
The gap in knowledge is not in virtualisation or hosting operations systems such as SCADA in the cloud. It’s the point where operational information meets open IT tooling (machine learning, predictive analytics) — the convergence point. The skill sets required to bring operational information into an IT environment then turn it into meaningful insights requires a new level of thinking, training and education.
The IoT hub seeks to connect billions of devices all at once, meaning any industrial device in the field can provide operational information directly into the cloud, bypassing the age-old automation triangle of information transfer (level 1 to 4). This approach enables a more intuitive and holistic way of gaining industrial insights straight from the edge of your operations.
For industrial automation vendors, this means that skill sets required to deliver a project have expanded — now it is necessary to be able to practically bridge industrial software (SCADA) and hardware (DCS/PLC/RTU) systems with open cloud analytic systems provided by the big cloud providers.
Having in-depth understanding of operations and operations technology places industrial vendors with in-house engineering capabilities at an advantage in being able to provide tangible business insights. From an end user’s point of view, this means positively influencing bottom line profitability.
With the technology stars aligning the internet (NBN/5G), data centre (IoT Hub) and connectivity (MQTT secure) the industrial automation industry has been catapulted into a world that behaves with a greater sense of urgency. With this rapid change and uncertainty a degree of reassurance can be found in the fact that industrial automation technology has been pioneering rugged control, communication and system visualisation well before PCs made their way into the office and the term IT was coined. With reliability, availability and operability purpose-built for the process at hand, tighter partnerships between end users and engineering-focused industrial automation vendors, the pivotal blocks for building a secure and profitable digital future are already here.
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