The Internet of Things is coming from dreams and plans to reality, but some people in manufacturing are suggesting that IoT must include the Internet of Manufacturing Things, or even just the Internet of Manufacturing.
Many IoT applications in other fields are about adding computers and internet capability to things that don’t currently communicate at all, like your refrigerator, store shelves, or your pedometer. The IoT in manufacturing is about getting efficient communication going among things that have been communicating in closed-loop systems for decades. Add in your company’s ERP and the expert knowledge of humans in the system, and you’ve trying to tame the Tower of Babel.
What’s more, as Peter Fischbach, automation industry sector manager at Bosch Rexroth was recently quoted saying in Automation World, “The goal of Industry 4.0 is not to [move everything into the] IT world, it is to make machines more efficient and easier to maintain.”
Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering project is intended to help connect a myriad of different machines and systems in ways that work well for their engineers and operators. The object is to make the factory work better, and to improve the bottom line.
Over time, the IoMT might bring in Big Data from other sources, allowing the store’s Smart Shelf to communicate directly with the plant about a need for increased production, causing the plant’s algorithms to change schedules for the machinery and fit in a few extra hundred thousand units of production.
At this point, the challenge is more about helping PCs and PLCs exchange data better. Each production plant will have to determine how many different participants there should be in each conversation, and how closely they need to be able to communicate.