What’s in it for me? Sure, the Industrial IoT is getting a lot of press—it’s been riding high on the Gartner Hype Cycle for years. But now that most people have beheld the vision and survived the deluge of glowing predictions, they are starting to ask some down-to-earth questions. In particular, engineers who have to assemble the pieces and managers who need to justify the costs are asking, “What are we going to get out of it?”
The benefit of the IoT, according to Finbar Gallagher, CEO and Founder of Fraysen Systems, is its ability to turn data into value. To explain how that happens, Gallagher has boiled down every IoT implementation into a common “5D architecture.” In his article, The 5D Architecture – A Standard Architecture for IoT, he says, “IoT systems are complex, very large scale and present many pitfalls for the system architect. Thinking about these systems in terms of the problem to be solved: turning data into value…”
The article breaks down the process of turning data into value through the interaction of five core elements, the 5D of the architecture, which can be summarized as follows:
- Data collection
- Detecting events based on changes in the data, and analysis
- Dispatching (decide and plan) an action based on events
- Delivering the action
- Developing value, which underlies and unites all of the above
Surrounding, connecting, and acting upon these 5D core elements are four services:
- Presenting information
- Storing data and information
- Managing the 5 core elements.
Although these services are sometimes considered to be core elements, Gallagher separates them, because he says they do not in themselves create value. Each of these services relies on a person to extract value from them. Ultimately, value is not intrinsic to the data, analysis, plans, or actions either, but rather depends on human interaction to derive it. To make his point, Gallagher quotes a production manager who once said to him, “So if I don’t look at the charts this system presents, the system doesn’t deliver any value, does it?”
Be that as it may, people still need an IIoT system to access their data for extracting value. And the better it functions, the more value they get. A good IIoT service will provide optimal data collection, event detection, dispatching, and delivery of action through secure and rapid communication, accurate presentation, and fully-integrated storage of data and information. Gallagher suggests some specific criteria, such as:
- The ability to collect data from a wide range of sources, including legacy PLCs, log files, historians, and devices that may use different protocols.
- Low latency data communication through direct, real-time connections whenever possible, avoiding high-latency approaches such as having a sender write data to files and requiring the receiver to read them.
- Consistent event detection: repeatable and verifiable.
- The ability to provide feedback (with or without human input) so that the system supports the ability to learn and modify action plans.
- Data communication should be easy to use, resilient, and able to preserve structure. To these we would also add secure by design.
- Data storage should be flexible, fully integrated, and minimal latency.
Anyone familiar with Skkynet’s approach to Industrial IoT will see that it meets the criteria that Gallagher proposes. On our own, we can’t turn data into value. That depends on you, the user. But we can provide you with easy, quick, and secure access to your data, so that you can make the most of it.