The Internet Of Things (IoT) is a buzzword that has penetrated into a lot of the discussion in the IT world. Most of the focus of IoT is on devices in our homes, like our refrigerator that sends you an email that you’re out of eggs, or a thermostat for your house that detects you are driving home (via your iPhone) and starts up the airconditioning.
Equipment on a shop floor has for many years had a sort of pre-cursor to IoT in the form of PLC controllers. I’ve walked through many plant floors where products like Wonder Ware is connected to the PLC devices in a plant and is collecting information about production runs and processes. So the question is, does the IoT change any of that?
My expectation is that IoT now provides a capability for equipment manufacturers and machine design that was not available with a PLC. Primarily this is the ability to embed the kind of monitoring and management software directly into the machine that used to need external software. What you can do now is embed a web server in your robotic production center that provides graphs, dashboards and even touch-screen controls over the device. If you’re a company that manufacturers and designs machines, you are probably already being asked to do this or have started to. If you’re a manufacturing company that is buying automation equipment, you might be one of those businesses asking for these capabilities.
If you’re looking to read a bit more on this subject, the website MachineDesign.com is a great resource. I found a few articles on IoT located there, such as a discussion of Human Machine Interfaces and why they are becoming more important.