How to select hardware for Industry 4.0?

This is an outcome from our study of what production managers, scientists and stakeholders require. The IoT platform you build or buy must serve your actual purpose as well as take away the maintenance pains away from you. The Industry 4.0 hardware should also be as long term as possible. It should not ‘show its presence’ for maintenance or as a hurdle like say the dead weight of the devices on you. Simply, it should be a seamless service that works for you and not a baby needing attention.

We have made sure that the selection of components is smart and cost effective at the same time. For example, traditional camera makers have gone to great length on perfecting their equipment & lenses (causing a higher price point), and the passionate photographers have painstakingly mastered the art of adjusting aperture size, shutter speed etc. Google however, used artificial intelligence software with 2 low cost lenses instead of 1 in the Pixel 6 and, made sure the smile is captured beautifully with full depth of the background in a bright, crisp photo. Likewise, we too challenge convention & tradition.

Let’s see the optimum requirements –

  • Modular
  • Flexible
  • Secure
  • Expandable
  • Scalable
  • Reliable
  • Inter-operable
  • Compatible with any cloud platform – Azure, Amazon AWS, Google or yours!
  • Should be backed up fully with customized software
  • Easy to use with Visual Studio, LabVIEW & other popular development environments
  • Serviceable – Long Term
  • Have all popular ports – Ethernet, WiFi, USB, RS 485 etc.
  • Compatible with commercial off-the-shelf Data Acquisition devices
  • Inexpensive
  • Usable with existing assembly line
  • High measurement Accuracy (say 16-bit ADC or better)

Let’s go in the detail:

Modular – You want your Industry 4.0 solution to contain only the necessary capability and all the necessary capability. For example, as explained in this blog-post, you may need just 1 (or few) cloud connected devices in the factory who not only perform with the connected machine, but also serve as a gateway for nearby devices/machines. Besides, you may need an add-on DAQ device on certain IoT devices say, for reading temperatures.

Flexible – Your chosen Industrial IoT devices might not be used by some other department in your company. Which is why it has to co-work with IoT devices coming from some other vendor. If your organization gives you flexibility to choose your selected platform, the Industrial IoT platform of your choice should support that policy.

Secure: This is tricky. Your IoT device might be secure using industry grade standard security but, it should also work within the permissions and settings set by your IT department. Hence your vendor needs to have the expertise to ensure work is conducted seamlessly, without causing you headache. Most off-the-shelf devices aren’t designed with this in mind which is why many IoT projects have failed to integrate completely in the enterprise.

Expandable: Your laboratory, fleet or factory will undergo unforeseen changes. It’s no advantage to select an IoT device this year which works perfectly but needs to be changed later. This is a burden to you plus the cost of both software as well as hardware to your company. The architect has to use his or her experience to ensure that the IoT device is designed future-ready. It’s not your onus to go in the microscopic details of the devices you buy. It has to be a given.

Scalable: This is a no brainer. Organizations scale faster than one can imagine. But good news is that many Industry 4.0 solutions in the market are pretty scalable.

Reliable: Not all IoT devices perform seamlessly. When you select an IoT device, the focus is mostly on functionality, features and how it can save you labor. A Raspberry Pi is a good example. It’s a suitable device to use in Industrial IoT projects. But what if your location requires harsh ambient conditions, say temperature or humidity extremes? Most Raspberry Pi devices aren’t made to work in such conditions. Besides, the modules that are made for Raspberry Pi might not be military grade. If Raspberry Pi is your choice of platform, ensure that the vendor has selected military grade components.

Interop: Your IoT device should work with any PLC, PAC, PC or a controller of your choice. It should also be compatible with standard DAQ devices and instruments you use in your day-to-day work.

Cloud: Your IoT device should be cloud ready. You should have the complete mandate to select any cloud platform. The vendor needs to have a software team in-house to support any cloud of your choice. Or a different cloud later on, should your management decides to change.

Since the advent of 5G, things which were only imaginable in the past are already here & available to all. In 2001, a team of French surgeons performed a surgery remotely via high-speed fiber optic. Now on, such things will be common-place & superior as well. I delivered a keynote last year on IoT in India which describes the subject comprehensively for beginners.

Thank you for your time! Here’s our basic Industry 4.0 ready hardware –

MultiFly –

We make end-to-end Industry 4.0 solutions. Feel free to get in touch with us with your queries!

Download Brochure of MultiFly 4G (January 2020)

Contact us for Industrial IoT