Industrial IoT - How to create the perfect digital twin (and not a hollow digital ghost)
Industrial IoT is seen as one of the key factors in driving the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. It’s a logical conclusion: by building digital representations of physical assets and processes, additional insights will come from large data sets. This data in turn will drive new revenue possibilities, increase efficiencies, or identify cost-saving opportunities. This can also be explained with the term “digital twin”. A digital twin is a digital and visual representation of the operations. Which in an industrial environment means the production floor.
To create a digital twin, data needs to be effectively gathered from different operations, functions and assets – and in real time. Because without data, the visual representation is only a hollow digital ghost. So, the question is: how to build more of a twin and less of a ghost? This comes down to several factors; some are organizational and operational, whilst others are to do with technology and available know-how. A lack of know-how is one of the biggest hurdles, but it is not independent of the technology or ecosystem of choice.
At Wirepas, we believe in democratizing access to machine-generated data. This means that the cost structure of the IoT solution must be appropriate and accessible for anyone. Naturally, this starts with the hardware bill of materials. Many IoT connectivity protocols incur expense in the bill of material by using out-dated and proprietary radio HW and/or protocols. That doesn’t happen at Wirepas. We leverage off-the-shelf radio hardware from vendors such as Nordic Semiconductor and Silicon Labs, where development costs have been amortised over billions of shipped radios.
Another important consideration is the installation time and effort to instrument your digital twin. This has a direct impact on cost which can be large in any industrial IoT project. Wirepas Massive networks are truly self-organizing and totally autonomous. Algorithms running in each radio decide how best to organize the network, its topology and use of radio spectrum. This eliminates network planning, reduces installation time and, most importantly, the deployment can be a simple part of daily routines by factory workers to save a lot of time and money.
A third consideration is how dense and scalable the solution is. The more sampling points and the higher the density, the more accurate your digital twin becomes. Also, uplink data rates need to be high enough for the large data sets required for predictive maintenance and other use cases, often simultaneously. As a result, having a large number of affordable sensors with more than 120 Kbps per sink per gateway, in an unlimited multi-gateway network, builds the capacity and tips the solution into positive ROI much quicker than alternative approaches.
Finally, an accessible, cost-effective digital twin has a lot to do with timely execution and predictable development cost. We license the protocol software, which goes through rigorous testing in multiple verticals from RF chambers to very crowded radio environments, saving a lot of effort from the solution providers. Our team has also recently opened a GitHub for full reference software from network to cloud, including Linux gateway and brokers in the cloud. IoT system development has never been as easy as it is now. And if you miss a skill or competence, the Wirepas ecosystem is ready to help.For example, with professional antenna measurements and design by Radientum or Mattester.
Within the Wirepas eco-system we are seeing more and more traction for industrial sensing devices. There are great products from Treon such as the Industrial node designed with Sulzer as lead customer, Haltian’s smooth factory including the Thingsee ANGLE sensor among others and Altran’s or RFiD Discovery’s asset tracking platform. All are enabling new use cases in Industry 4.0.
Recently, one big improvement for industrial environments was developed by Exilight, whospecialize in emergency and guidance lighting. In industrial environments, there are special requirements for the lights, e.g. they need to be operational, usually for at least 3 hours, in the case of an electricity failure. As there is a huge number of lights to maintain, the most viable option to keep competitive within monitoring the condition and updating the lights is to go wireless. Wirepas Massive offers an optimal solution with over the air updates. Remote monitoring the condition of the lights as well as getting alarms of problem situations increases safety for workers in an industrial environment.
Well, what do you say? Are you ready to make digital twins instead of hollow ghosts? If so, we can point you to solution providers or help you build your own.