BLOG: An Internet of Things (IoT) case study

BLOG: An Internet of Things (IoT) case study

03 October 2018

Andy Long, MD of Silverstone Technology Cluster member company Danihar, gets to the bottom of the Internet of Things (IoT) and makes us all feel that little bit more relaxed about it…

“If you are into technology either as a consumer or provider/OEM then you most definitely will have heard of at least one of these acronyms: IoP, IoT, IIoT, I4.0.

“So, what does all this mean and how will it influence our lives?

“I4.0 or Industry 4.0 is considered to be the fourth industrial revolution and is no less significant as the invention of the steam engine, telephone and the birth of the internet which are landmarks of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.

Are you in the Cloud?
“Industry 4.0 has been born from a transformation of how the internet has evolved.

“Since the third industrial revolution, the internet was predominantly IoP (Internet of People); people communicating with people.

“Industry 4.0 shifts this to ‘Things’ communicating with things. IoT is already a significant part of our lives within tech, like heating controls systems, fitness trackers, even intelligent whitegoods, and much more besides.

“However, industry sees IoT playing a significant role in optimisation of manufacture and thus cost savings. IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is all about capturing live data on machines.

“This data can then be used to provide preventive maintenance, production optimization, and integration into ERP and manufacture management systems.

“Taking an example of preventive maintenance, traditionally this would be a scheduled deployment with managed downtime.

“However, when breakdowns happen caused by unexpected component failure, then this is very disruptive and costly for business. What if we can predict this?

“Well we can, and this is where IIoT solves the problem. Let’s look at a scenario…

“A machine has started to exhibit some mechanical wear or fatigue, but early diagnosis can be sensed within the system either by an external sensor or within the existing components by monitoring available information.

“This information could be a small but ever-increasing energy usage or abnormal behaviour. This is now captured as a first indicator of a problem before total or sometimes catastrophic failure.

“Downtime can be scheduled and even parts can be pre-ordered automatically so that the machine up-time is maximized. Furthermore, device MTTF (Mean-Time-To-Failure) statistics can be captured, so that components can be schedule replaced before failure.”

So where does this information go?
“The information or data is generally sent to a cloud service provider. There are many providers out there, such as Microsoft Azure, IBM and AWS (Amazon Web Services).

“There are business cases on choosing one over the other; however this is beyond the scope of current discussion. The machine or ‘Thing’ has an internet connection to the service provider.

“Information is sent to the service provider using a secure encrypted connection. The data can then be used with cloud-based software services, also known as SaaS (Software as a Service) to leverage database storage and on-demand computing running software algorithms on the data, and thus taking appropriate actions.”

Are you a Greenfield or Brownfield?
“In the context of IIoT, ‘Greenfield’ is a term used to describe new manufacturing plants and thus new machinery installation with IIoT capability.

‘Brownfield’ refers to existing factories with pre-IIoT capability. Brownfield is a huge business with growing interest at a phenomenal rate because IIoT can be retrofitted at various levels, either in a non-disruptive or disruptive implementation at scalable costs. Brownfield can indeed offer most if not all the benefits of a Greenfield plant. However, bespoke system implementation is often required.”

What are the Current Challenges of IIoT with provider OEMs?

“The biggest challenge that all equipment manufacturers of IIoT systems must contend with is ‘the language’ known as the protocol of the data format to be sent to the cloud service provider.

“Many equipment manufacturers have adopted OPC UA; however not all as there are many other protocols to utilise, each having its pros and cons.

“If there is no unification, then infrastructures can become unnecessarily complex.

“Furthermore, a protocol has to be selected that best fits the needs, and a technology partner that can adapt to these protocols. This will ensure the success of industry IoT applications and protect from a war of protocols!”

For further information or assistance please see

Andy Long
Managing Director, DaniHar Technology Ltd