The new era of Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT and the connected factory concept are currently hot topics in industry. But yet, often times there is confusion among professionals in discussions both online and offline on the role of IIoT. Questions like, "Does IIoT replace SCADA?", " Can the two be integrated? " and "What really is the difference between the two?" always arise. The confusion is justified though, as there really is no clear line of differentiation between IIOT and SCADA. Personally I believe IIoT should be viewed as a technology that builds on top of SCADA.

In conclusion both SCADA and Industrial IoT are about the sensors and data acquisition. They differ in many aspects, but their common goal is to optimize equipment use, to provide correct production data and have better control over some devices and processes.

As per my thinking, these are some points where we differentiate IIOT and SCADA

  • 1) IOT tries to reduce hardware,system ownership cost, skills(some of the few that comes to my mind)for the owners/end users. For example historian can store data but only to a certain extent after which it will be overwritten by new data which means owner has to invest in bigger sized servers which can be avoided if data is transferred to the cloud. IIOT has the ability to process large amount of data from machines, All the data is sent to cloud and accessed using login details.

  • 2) Data analysis(short term/long term) requires skills and a normal SCADA engineer can't do this. This activity can be easily moved to cloud where the analysis can be done by experts both on the process as well as equipment based on customer requirement. Analysis need not be limited to "things" alone. IIOT is all about long term data storage for analysis, Big data analysis and machine learning algorithms can be applied to predict outcomes. This gives more power to the system by being able to predict maintenance schedules and so extending equipment life.

  • 3) Software licensing and upgradation of the same is a regular feature of SCADA systems which includes Windows as well. For example If an end user wants a reporting feature to be added in SCADA he has to buy a separate license and has to keep upgrading it regularly whereas cloud based services can help in avoiding this licensing ownership.

  • 4) Certain features like process control, alarming, real time operations, etc can be done by SCADA and not IIOT.

So SCADA and Industrial IOT can work with hand in hand, The measure benefit of IIOT is right data analysis is available anytime, anywhere and on any device which is useful to decrease downtime, to take production related decisions and to increase productivity.

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