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Industry 4.0 has inspired long-lasting changes for many organisations leading to improvements in efficiency. But for some businesses it is more difficult to fully utilise the opportunities Industry 4.0 offers. In this blog, we analyse how the internet of things (IoT) is the driving factor behind Industry 4.0 and offer solutions to businesses who are looking to take part in this development.  

Industry 4.0

The term industry 4.0 has been around for a few years, but recently it has received more attention. Dismissed as simply a buzzword by some, Industry 4.0 actually refers to a significant transformation currently taking place in businesses all around the world: the digitisation of manufacturing.

It is the fourth industrial revolution that is set to bring as much change as its predecessors. While the previous one introduced computers, the current one takes it one step further. Smart devices now communicate with each other as well as with central control and monitoring platforms, called system head-ends. Using programmable logic control (PLC) software, smart devices can act on inputs they receive while sending back data to trigger responses from the PLC software and other devices.

Operating processes can be completely automated and at the same time devices can provide operating data for analysis. The interconnectivity of smart devices is referred to as the internet of things (IoT).

Opportunities for Businesses

The key difference of Industry 4.0 compared to its predecessor is the use of the IoT. With devices installed that can communicate with each other, receive and send data to system head-ends, automation and analysis of operating processes is now a possibility.

Implementing automation software, such as PLC programmes, is essential to fully harness all opportunities IoT devices offer. It allows to fully control and automate each operating process by setting up logic strategies that control devices based on set inputs. It helps businesses cut operating costs by reducing system downtime, energy use and manual checks. Additionally, PLC software can control the entire building, including heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration (HVACR), lighting and alarms. Automating the entire infrastructure of a building is proven to save energy, cut operating costs and improve occupants’ comfort.

Any data devices gather, including operating performances, energy use or faulty equipment, can be transferred to a system head-end. Having this information available for analysis provides a huge opportunity to identify inefficiencies or operating issues. Not only does it allow processes being optimised, I also enables predictive maintenance, proven to save costs and prolong the life of machinery.

Challenges when Implementing IoT

As mentioned earlier, installing devices that can communicate with each other and a system head-end is essential to take part in the latest industrial revolution. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a struggle for some businesses, due to devices using proprietary protocols installed on their premises.

If these types of systems are installed, it can cause issues when trying to install new devices from a different manufacturer or automation software. In order to reach the full potential of Industry 4.0, all devices within a facility’s infrastructure need to be able to communicate with each other and with the system head-end.

Open Protocol Solutions

Open protocol solutions are the answer these types of businesses have been looking for. Instead of locking users into using one system, they allow a combination of devices using a variety of protocols.

Resource Data Management (RDM) have been advocating open protocol solutions for twenty years. Understanding the opportunities open protocol solutions can offer to businesses, open communications between devices and cognitive computing have been fundamental to our product development.

Central to our hardware offering is our system head-end DMTouch. It can connect to a broad range of I/O, PLC software, transducers and sensors via BACnet, Modbus, Echelon and many additional third-party protocols. DMTouch can create a full IoT platform using XML and modern controls, with access to top level systems using HTTP, HTTPS, MDTT and webservices.

Data can be accessed remotely via a standard web browser, or fed into ActiveFM, our full-suite facility management and predictive maintenance software platform. ActiveFM helps users carry out cost-effective maintenance as it facilitates detecting potential issues before they occur.

RDM’s HVACR controllers, the Intuitive range, can also communicate via a range of open protocol solutions. With our license-free PLC software built-in, they can be easily installed and programmed to automate manufacturing and other BMS processes.

Further Information

Our whitepaper about the IoT discusses opportunities it presents for businesses in more detail. For more information on automation software, take a look at our blog.

BMS IOT | Posted on 05 Aug 2020


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