Industry 4.0: Turning The Vision Into Reality

The future of automation is inextricably tied to the rise of Why IP. That reality has been recognized by leaders around the world, including those in private industry, academia and government, who have formed initiatives to accelerate the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.

The future of automation is inextricably tied to the rise of Why IP. That reality has been recognized by leaders around the world, including those in private industry, academia and government, who have formed initiatives to accelerate the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.

These initiatives aim to help industry research and apply an infrastructure that will achieve transformational economic-wide impact, manufacturing innovation and global competitiveness.

In Germany, for example, the federal government has set aside €200 million to underwrite Industrie 4.0, also referred to as “Industry 4.0.” Its vision: To help industries harness the intelligence generated by the IoT to optimize processes, increase efficiencies and spur greater innovation.

In the United States, a government-sponsored coalition has formed with a similar goal. The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition has focused on implementing “21st Century Smart Manufacturing” best practices. Chief among those are: Applying a reference architecture that enables seamless collaboration and integration between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT).

Much of the technology necessary to turn that vision into a reality already exists. That includes IP-enabled networks (industrial Ethernet and Wi-Fi), information infrastructure (hardware and software), and intelligent, connected devices such as sensors, actuators and switches. As a result, in the “Industrial Internet of Things – 2014 Edition,” IHS estimates that the number of Internet-connected devices in the industrial automation sector will increase more than fiftyfold from 2012 to 2025 — at a compound annual growth rate of 36.3 percent.

But to take full advantage of these connected devices, another wave of integration is required. A study of manufacturers conducted by Industry Week found surprisingly low levels of OT and IT integration. Only 14 percent of executives indicated that all plant-floor data is integrated with enterprise systems. Also about a fourth of executives indicated that a little more than half of their plant-floor machinery (not including computers) is Internet enabled — 30 percent reported that none of their equipment is Ethernet-enabled.

Clearly, the opportunity exists for organizations to bring their equipment and systems into the modern, information-enabled world.

Guidance for the Transformation

The good news is that resources are readily available to help companies make the transition to Industry 4.0, and connect smart things across enterprises, value chains and customers for improved performance.

Among those resources is a ready supply of EtherNet IP. EtherNet/IP facilitates secure interoperability between corporate networks and industrial applications so engineers can seamlessly share site-wide information. That’s because EtherNet/IP — unlike industrial networks that are “single-purpose” — leverages standard Ethernet and IP technology. This is the same technology used in the enterprise system, creating a single communications pathway that connects people, equipment and systems across all levels of an organization.

Industrial IP Advantage, established by Cisco, Panduit and Rockwell Automation, offers e-training courses to meet the new needs of control engineers and IT professionals. The interactive, scenario-based training courses teach critical design skills for converged, plantwide Ethernet architectures, covering topics that will help IT and OT professionals harmonize operations, such as logical topologies, protocols, switching/routing, physical cabling and wireless considerations. The training courses complement hands-on, lab-based courses, such as Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies (IMINS), which is offered by Cisco and instructed by Rockwell Automation to provide the foundational skills needed to manage and administer networked industrial control systems.

With an anticipated 220,000 IT and OT engineers needed every year to scale the Internet of Things (IoT), coalitions and manufacturers alike will offer resources that help control system engineers and IT engineers achieve competency and skills to install, maintain and troubleshoot industrial network systems.

The vision of this integration and re-skilling effort is to transform data into insightful information that provides decision-makers — at every organizational level — new visibility into operations, new opportunities to respond to market and business challenges, and new opportunities to drive inefficiencies out of their operations.

The operational benefits are huge, but so are the fear and uncertainty that come with such profound change.

Five Steps to Connected Success

To help ease the transition, consider the five-stage Connected Enterprise Maturity Model developed by Rockwell Automation. The model provides a guide for implementing a more intelligent OT/IT network, and has been proven to significantly reduce costs while improving business capabilities.

The five stages include measures and best practices necessary to ensure effective change in both technologies and organizational cultures.

Stage 1: Assessment – Evaluating an organization’s existing OT/IT infrastructure — including controls, networks, information solutions and security — is critical. A thorough assessment helps create the “blueprint” for the new collaborative operation, laying the foundation for advanced technologies such as business intelligence software or cloud-computing capabilities.

Stage 2: Secure and upgraded networks and controls – A challenge for many organizations is the sheer volume and variety of outdated controls and networks in place. In this stage, the organization builds an OT/IT backbone that can deliver secure, adaptable connectivity from plant floor operations to enterprise business systems. Planning begins, and cross-functional teams assess new technology options and establish upgrade roadmaps.

Stage 3: Defined and organized working data capital (WDC) – The team now starts to define and organize all the available data needed for improving business processes. An effective OT/IT operation incorporates data from IoT devices across the enterprise to deliver performance-critical information that can be used for real-time, critical decision-making.

Stage 4: Analytics – The focus shifts to continuous improvement and how best to leverage the newfound OT/IT capabilities. Analytics utilizing the WDC help pinpoint the greatest needs for real-time information.  In this stage the “data” turns into “information” that is insightful and actionable.

Stage 5: Collaboration – Create an environment that anticipates activities throughout the enterprise and through the supply and demand chain, enabling responsiveness to external events, supplier and customer activities, business trends, and changing market conditions. Organizations are also able to leverage centrally located domain experts across their operations, sharing best practices and enlisting the knowledge base of an entire supply chain.

Turning the Vision into Reality

Connecting automation and business systems is a vision shared by many in private industry, academia and government. And as manufacturers walk through these five steps and begin unleashing the new gains in productivity and efficiency, the uncertainty of adopting more connected OT/IT technology and services will long be forgotten. This uncertainty will be replaced by the understanding that IP technology and training are the means to turning the vision of Industry 4.0 into reality.

Mike Hannah, Rockwell Automation on behalf of Industrial IP Advantage

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