The following is a guest post from Gary Mintchell the Founder and CEO at Manufacturing Connection. Mintchell is an expert in the Industrial Internet of Things and has followed the strategy, partner ecosystem and roadmap of Dell’s IoT Group since its inception in 2015. He has had deep dives on the topic with Dell’s IoT Group leadership and Dell’s CTO for Client Solutions, Liam Quinn, during this year’s Dell EMC World.
Few technologies have had as much hype and publicity in the manufacturing and industrial space as the Internet of Things. Magazines feel the need to cover it. Marketing people weave it into any press release that they can.
If you really want to know what the Internet of Things is, along with some of its potential, the place to go was the IoT and OEM booth at Dell EMC World Expo.
The Dell Gateway was the core piece of technology connecting all the disparate elements.
Control Valve Condition Monitoring
The reality of the working system for manufacturing was demonstrated by a real-world working demonstration of control valve condition monitoring—such as might be found on an oil pipeline. An instrument on the control valve communicates data such as usage, temperature, and the like to a Pi database (a standard in the industry from OSIsoft) housed in a Dell Gateway 5000 via the industrial HART IP protocol.
The Gateway stores the data and uploads to the cloud, where another OSIsoft Pi database. Data is sent to a smart device such as a tablet or phone for information or action by appropriate plant personnel.
Why is this important? By continuously monitoring the state of the control valve, operations and maintenance can plan for condition-based maintenance. Since so many of these are in remote locations, saving trips to the site for repair reduces both cost and risk of failure.
Should there be an interruption of the communication link of the Gateway to the cloud, no problem. The Gateway stores data and then uploads upon restoration of the link.
Another demonstration of a real case study was from IMS Evolve. This company monitors refrigerated equipment throughout the food processing and delivery supply chain. It takes only a slight variation in temperature to ruin food meant to be refrigerated or frozen. Companies need to identify potentially contaminated food in order to target recalls. Better yet, tracking the data can reveal trends and enable customers to proactively maintain equipment thus avoiding problems.
Perhaps the hit of the booth was the DAQRI augmented reality hard hat. You can walk through a construction site and visualize where HVAC ducts and wiring conduits are designed to go. The contractor can detect interferences and layout problems at the design stage before wasting time and material from rework.
IoT Advisory Services
Many teams evaluating IoT implementations wonder if they can do a good implementation with internal resources or if they would be ahead to hire consultants who have been down that road before.
IoT Technology Advisory Service is a new consulting offer from Dell EMC Services to help organizations determine the key capabilities and architecture required to leverage IoT data (e.g., sensors, beacons, gateways, mobile phones, wearables, connected devices). This information can be used for initiatives such as optimizing key operational processes, reducing compliance and security risks, uncovering new revenue opportunities and creating more compelling customer engagements.
Open Source Ecosystem
All of the above are applications of IoT that you can actually implement today. This is not some Star Trek future dream. Although there is plenty of room for dreaming up new applications.
To me the significant announcement is the EdgeX Foundry open source project. The Dell EMC IoT team has assembled an impressive array of companies contributing to the ecosystem with many more on the way. A couple of those considering are ones that I do a lot of work with. I hope they join.
The project features a set of open source micro services donated by Dell EMC from the FUSE project that provide the connectivity layer for the various sensor inputs and applications. The use of standards and open APIs enables an IoT platform very much like the Web where any application can join as long as they use standard, interoperable connectivity.
I previously wrote about EdgeX after my interview with Jason Shepherd in Hannover, Germany. You can read it on my blog.
Disclosure: I attended the Dell EMC World event with my expenses paid by Dell.
Gary Mintchell, gary@TheManufacturingConnection.com, is a manufacturing technology writer and consultant and the Founder of The Manufacturing Connection (www.TheManufacturingConnection.com). You can follow him on Twitter @garymintchell.