What is the IIoT? Streamline Your Control System Communications

industrial automation systems

The burgeoning global volume of digital devices (the “things” referred to in the phrase “Internet of Things”) continues to expand processes and productivity. More than ever, machines, programs, and workers are connected to and through each other via technological systems. 

Most of these technologies have developed independently of each other, but evolving innovations have enhanced their value by combining their operations and services. Automating the controls of these networks using an overlayer of systems control technology promises to enhance their aggregate values even more. Doing so harnesses the power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).  

Augment Control While Enhancing Productivity

The idea of augmenting the value of an asset by connecting its capabilities to another resource is not new. Connecting automation technology to enterprise resource planning (ERP) facilitates the speedier delivery of a more accurate product and product data that neither software function can generate alone. The challenge is to reduce the effort to connect the two systems into a cohesive, effective, and more efficient whole. 

Today’s almost limitless constellation of tools, programs, and networks offers an equally endless opportunity for unprecedented growth. Organizations seeking to harness those assets must find a way to connect and maximize the productivity of all their existing production and operational capacities. But how can today’s modernized, globally based enterprise possibly run enough cable to connect all the resources available in its digital assets? Simply put, it can’t.  

Eliminate Unnecessary Hardware and Cabling

In the past, typical physical integration practices were unwieldy and complicated, requiring miles of specialized cables fitted with unique connectors to link one machine to another. Individual appliances were not developed with this type of integration option in mind, and often technicians had to create new adapters to make these specific types of interaction possible. This process was not replicable when resources were at some distance from each other, and many organizations didn’t consider that unknown barrier when architects first designed their warehouses, treatment facilities, and production lines.

Fortunately, three relatively recent innovations have resolved these concerns:

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing services move whole-enterprise control capabilities out of the on-premises site and into advanced, integrated cloud servers and databases. A cloud configuration of architecture, organization, and programming collectively provides a significantly improved enterprise solution for harmonizing and optimizing its entire digital infrastructure.    


Industrial automation systems also provide superior productivity options. Automating a process from human effort to technological tool offers several distinct benefits for every enterprise:

Releases the Labor Force From Performing Menial Tasks

Automation takes over menial, repetitive chores, releasing the human worker from those obligations. Software programming usually achieves superior accuracy over human effort when automatically transferring information from one corporate element to another.

Facilitates Focus on Higher-Level Corporate Goals

It also frees human resources to attend to more pressing organizational issues instead of focusing on repetitive, mundane activities. 

Improves Production While Reducing Costs 

Automation can also speed up production and lower operations costs. Computers work faster than people can, with better accuracy and more comprehensiveness. “Work” happens more quickly without adding unnecessary labor force expenses. This automated capacity permits almost instant delivery of valid, relevant information structured to meet virtually every user’s needs.

Many standard job functions are undertaken in pursuit of a larger goal. Automating those common elements allows the human resource to better attend to a more strategic focus than the performing of menial tasks.

Smart Devices

Today’s modernized devices are often designed with smart technology that provides a networking capacity in addition to their essential service. These intelligent machines are becoming more ubiquitous as global connectivity gains popularity. In the public sector, for example, smart TVs connect automatically with smartphones, tablets, and computers to become an extension of the household or corporate information grid. In the industrial sector, smart machine values are even more impressive as they absorb the data capture/compute/storage demands driven by multiple styles of instruments, programming platforms, and data generation systems.

Utilizing cloud computing, automation, and intelligent devices allows organizations to implement automated, system-wide control strategies. 

Optimize All Your IIoT Assets

Implementation of the overarching structure requires adding digital components while still being able to access the convenience of legacy tools. Establishing an automated Industrial Internet of Things constellation is achievable using two readily available assets:

Ethernet Cabling

Legacy cabling remains relevant and viable using ethernet connections. Ethernet capacities are defined by standards established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to create a physical connection layer and data link within a wired media access system. 

Ethernet connections link physical devices and hardware within a single network and facilitate communications among them. It is the worldwide standard for the wiring and cabling needed to join the functions of multiple machines, devices, and computers. Further, ethernet networking is easily expandable when new appliances are added, so it remains the world’s most widely used and popular digital networking technology.

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity adds additional resources to your digital networks. Wireless connections connect through the internet and cellular systems and don’t require physical cabling between machines. Consequently, assets that are too remote, or difficult to reach, or too costly to connect via hard cables can now be accessed using the wireless connection capacity. 

Intelligent devices are specifically designed to connect wirelessly with the larger enterprise-wide digital communications strategy, and cellular-based technology — cell phones, tablets, etc. — is now routinely used to access that more extensive technological presence. 

ICA engineering leads its industry in providing upgrades to and implementing automated systems and control technologies for clients across industries ranging from pharmaceuticals, food, and beverage to utilities, manufacturing, and more. Our experts will help your organization establish and maintain its automated system-wide control to enhance your productivity and profitability.

Consult ICA for more information

Follow us to read our next article about three excellent examples of use-case scenarios demonstrating the optimal capacities of the automated IIoT industrial system. 

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