The industrial internet refers to a reality of seamless integrated machinery with networked sensors and powerful software.
The industrial Internet combines fields once separate; including big data, machine-to-machine communication, cyber security and more. As of March 2014, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) was founded by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM, and Intel to bring together industry players, from global corporations to academia, to accelerate the development, adoption and wide-spread use of Industrial Internet technologies. Moxa Inc. was one of the early participants in this organization and serves on the Board of the Energy Charter.
Whether you call it the Industrial Internet, Industrial Internet of Things or Industrie 4.0; it's all the same thing. Today, automation and IT are coupling their advancements of the last 20 years to tackle some of the world's biggest problems in energy, mass transportation, city infrastructure and manufacturing. Bringing these concepts into a reality across various vertical applications is certainly easier said than done, but there are four design attributes that define Industrial IoT and transcend vertical application:
The industrial IoT is dependent upon pervasive and fluid connectivity between devices, sensors and operations. In the past, the division between Fieldbus networks, control networks and the application layers of comprehensive industrial operations were heavily divided. Protocol division guaranteed that connecting an oil refinery's DCS system, for example, to the corporation's global control network would be difficult, expensive and limited in functionality. The amount of data generated by various sensors and meters in a midsized refinery can produce terabytes of largely uninteresting data each day. Advancements in sensor resiliency, wireless transmission and network infrastructure have allowed for these industrial applications to support the growing stream of data at costs far lower than traditional Fieldbus infrastructures.
As mentioned, the industrial world is not lacking in data production. The challenge rests in putting those data to work. For years, enterprise data companies utilizing distributed databases have searched for the best way to implement data-driven operational solutions into heavy industry and automation, but usability has been hard to achieve. With the huge surge of data that a network of flow meters can produce in one day, for example, the transfer and storage of those data have been seen as too comprehensive to support in an industrial network. However, with the advancement of embedded computing and industrial wireless networks, the processing and storage of stream data are allowing small to large-scale oil and gas operations to log years of production data with ease - quickly alerting central control of anomalies in the process in real-time. Benefits of this "Data-to-Information" capability at the edge of industrial networks have allowed companies to maximize capital equipment service by years, while shedding light on potential system failures before they occur.
Cyber Security Shift:
The cyber level of the Industrial IoT movement is what fundamentally differentiates Industrial IoT from IoT. In the Industrial Internet, the cyber level serves as a central information hub where all data from field assets and sensors exist. It is at the cyber level where customized analytics are performed and reside for the purpose of allowing machines to engage in self-learning processes and machine-to machine comparisons over time. In simple terms, network data are being distributed among the various devices within a local area network, placing much of the burden of computation and security evenly among the devices in that network. Bandwidth bottlenecks are reduced, as well as potential areas of network vulnerability. This is because the cyber level of the Industrial IoT architecture, by its very nature, flips traditional cyber security and management models on their head by shifting traffic away from large corporate networks to a network of edge and perimeter devices. In this model, each device has a role to play in the security of the greater network.
While much of the current critical infrastructure in heavy industry is controlled by a a web of interconnected control systems, such as distributed control systems (DCS) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), the application of control is moving toward the cloud. Whether we are talking about oil and gas SCADA systems or power grid control networks, each network is unique.
SCADA systems have largely involved a great deal of customization and commissioning time before going operational. This is a huge disadvantage when it comes to scalability and safety. Contrary to early proponents of Industrial IoT, the future of an industrial internet does not rest in the cloud, but the development of SCADA systems might. Utilizing the cloud to provide the application layer of data acquisition and control to the cloud allows for a more decentralized state of SCADA development, customization and intrusion control in greater rapidity.
Oil and Gas - Industrial IoT with Moxa
In order to make the Industrial IoT movement a reality on a massive scale, many disparate technologies and industries must learn to work more cohesively with one another.
One of the verticals that Moxa is leading the way in Industrial IoT applications is oil and gas. With oil prices dropping to historic lows, the upstream oil sphere is heavily vested in long-term cost-cutting measures that still provide safety and security assurances to the many mission-critical applications. In simple terms, there are three ways to lower the bottom-line when it comes to oil and gas production: increase production efficiency, decrease production labor costs and - of course - halt production altogether. Moxa has been in the business of helping oil and gas companies with the first two of these three options.
The Moxa approach to Industrial IoT in oil and gas has been the same as it has been in all verticals. We place an emphasis on combining advanced networking technology with industrial quality. In upstream oil and gas applications, specifically in offshore applications, Moxa's embedded computing and wireless product offering has provided the industry with the ability to combine PLC functionality at the edge of the network with wireless accessibility. Outside of providing the customer with a huge initial cost-savings, the Moxa approach to industrial computing and wireless accessibility allows offshore networks to conduct analytics in real-time on the platform itself. Conventionally, oil platforms can produce up to two-four terabytes of operational data in a single day. This inflow of data is very difficult to transfer via satellite to central control onshore for analytics, often taking days to process. Of course, this process of data extraction and transfer does not provide daily operational value to some of the mission critical aspects of any offshore rig operation.
With Moxa's UC-8100, and other embedded computers, Moxa is enabling oil and gas customers to capitalize on all benefits the industrial internet can provide onsite. Instead of waiting days to gain insights from production scales and capital equipment status updates, operators can gather the information in seconds. Production or equipment anomalies can be recognized immediately so corrective action can be taken. The life of rotating equipment, piping and drilling systems can be extended with less controller resources. Lastly, the risk of system failure and network intrusion can be further mitigated.
Outside of Moxa's product line of embedded computers and AWK wireless modules, it can further empower offshore upstream operations by bringing the control room to the fingertips of the operational staff onboard. EXPC-1519 touchscreen panel PC is ideal for any mission-critical operation where onsite control and visibility are imperative. The anti-scratch, 19-inch sunlight viewable LCD capacitive multi-touch screen can be operated with rigger's gloves, offering dexterity of a consumer tablet, while enduring the most extreme environments. The high performance Intel® 3rd generation Core™ i7-3555LE or Celeron 1047UE CPU and up to 2.5GHz processor guarantees high visibility and usability in nearly all circumstances. The fanless design is operable in temperatures -40° to 70°C. Like most of Moxa's products, the EXPC-1519 works anywhere and everywhere.
Moxa is a leading industrial networking connectivity company that has grown out of its success in providing connectivity solutions, no matter the vertical market. With over 35 million devices connected to the Internet, Moxa has seen the power that is bringing data-driven decision making to the field or offshore rig floor.