Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control bring the IoT within the realm of industrial applications and smart manufacturing as well. The IoT intelligent systems enable rapid manufacturing of new products, dynamic response to product demands, and real-time optimization of manufacturing production and supply chain networks, by networking machinery, sensors and control systems together.
Digital control systems to automate process controls, operator tools and service information systems to optimize plant safety and security are within the purview of the IoT. But it also extends itself to asset management via predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation, and measurements to maximize reliability. Smart industrial management systems can also be integrated with the Smart Grid, thereby enabling real-time energy optimization. Measurements, automated controls, plant optimization, health and safety management, and other functions are provided by a large number of networked sensors.
The National Science Foundation established an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on intelligent maintenance systems (IMS) in 2001 with a research focus to use IoT-based predictive analytics technologies to monitor connected machines and to predict machine degradation, and further to prevent potential failures. The vision to achieve near-zero breakdown using IoT-based predictive analytics led the future development of e-manufacturing and e-maintenance activities.
The term IIoT (industrial Internet of things) is often encountered in the manufacturing industries, referring to the industrial subset of the IoT. IIoT in manufacturing could generate so much business value that it will eventually lead to the fourth industrial revolution, so the so-called Industry 4.0. It is estimated that in the future, successful companies will be able to increase their revenue through Internet of things by creating new business models and improve productivity, exploit analytics for innovation, and transform workforce. The potential of growth by implementing IIoT will generate $12 trillion of global GDP by 2030.
Design architecture of cyber-physical systems-enabled manufacturing system
While connectivity and data acquisition are imperative for IIoT, they should not be the purpose, rather the foundation and path to something bigger. Among all the technologies, predictive maintenance is probably a relatively “easier win” since it is applicable to existing assets and management systems. The objective of intelligent maintenance systems is to reduce unexpected downtime and increase productivity. And to realize that alone would generate around up to 30% over total maintenance costs. Industrial big data analytics will play a vital role in manufacturing asset predictive maintenance, although that is not the only capability of industrial big data. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) is the core technology of industrial big data and it will be an interface between human and the cyber world. Cyber-physical systems can be designed by following the 5C (connection, conversion, cyber, cognition, configuration) architecture, and it will transform the collected data into actionable information, and eventually interfere with the physical assets to optimize processes.
An IoT-enabled intelligent system of such cases has been demonstrated by the NSF Industry/University Collaborative Research Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems (IMS) at University of Cincinnati on a band saw machine in IMTS 2014 in Chicago. Band saw machines are not necessarily expensive, but the band saw belt expenses are enormous since they degrade much faster. However, without sensing and intelligent analytics, it can be only determined by experience when the band saw belt will actually break. The developed prognostics system will be able to recognize and monitor the degradation of band saw belts even if the condition is changing, so that users will know in near real time when is the best time to replace band saw. This will significantly improve user experience and operator safety, and save costs on replacing band saw belts before they actually break. The developed analytical algorithms were realized on a cloud server, and was made accessible via the Internet and on mobile devices.