Machine to Machine connections can be hardware connections between components on a process line. These connections could be from any multitude of sensors on a boiler back to a control panel that is being monitored by a human or a control system. Machine 2 Machine could be analogous to the sensors in a car feeding the data to the dashboard. These connections allow for the machine to receive vital data and not only maintain their optimized performance but make changes or adaptations when needed. The interchanging of data allows for the network device involved to make a predetermined decision based on the status of the process. In a car, if the temperature is getting too hot, the dashboard will illuminate with a warning that the driver needs to stop and evaluate the state of their engine. This temperature sensor was involved in the M2M process with the engine and there was an automated and logical response based on the data that the temperature sensor was receiving.
Even though the example of an engine temperature warning light is a hardwired connection between the temperature sensor and the car, M2M is typically a connection that is made through a public network. This public network could be ethernet or cellular. The use of a public network is significantly more cost-effective than using a hardwired connection. The use of wires to relay data across a factory is not very effective since thousands of yards of wire can be replaced by a public network which is just as fast and less expensive. Using a public network allows for the monitoring of thousands of machines across a factory floor simply by using the internet. These M2M connections allow for processes to control themselves. On the plant floor there may be an induction furnace being fed rods of steel. There may be a monitoring sensor ensuring that the machine is stocked with rods for the optimized process flow. The sensor on the other side of the furnace may be monitoring that only one rod is in the furnace at any given time. If this sensor determines that there are two rods within the furnace, the machine may shut itself down and wait for an operator or maintenance to arrive and make the necessary corrections so that the process may resume as intended. The M2M connection from the furnace sensor to the power made the logical operation to shut down the machine since it recognized that there were too many rods in the furnace at one time. This connection eliminates downtime from faulty work caused by a kink the process.
Machine to Machine connections between components in a process through a public network allow for automated responses along a production line. These automated responses allow for more efficient processes and better monitoring of machines. The connections are very useful and are approaching IIoT since both allow for smarter and efficient monitoring. These two monitoring methods will merge as one and allow for machines to make automated and logical decisions on a large scale, while also feeding collected data to the cloud that will allow users to make larger and more effective decisions for the process. It is important to recognize that M2M is separate and does not require IIoT in its current state because the process is autonomous. IIoT compliments M2M. It is simply a monitoring process that is placed over current and previously existing infrastructure so that everything becomes further efficient.
M2M does not require the connectivity infrastructure that IIoT requires since they are simply hardwired and connected through an internet network. IIoT requires extra protocols and interfaces for the transfer of data and the manipulation of the collected data. IIoT can benefit from M2M connections since M2M is self-sustainable and is able to function without the interference and input from a user like IIoT requires. M2M uses pre-programmed logic to control the processes and keep machines running smoothly. IIoT requires analytics and input from a user on top of the pre-programmed logic. M2M typically comes online and does not change until newer processes are put in place, while IIoT is placed on top of existing framework and does not require extra hardwiring in order to bring the process up to date.
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Results Engineering is an IIoT/Industry 4.0 systems integrator that has been working in plants for the last 30 years. Our role is to guide our clients on the path to IIoT implementations, achieving ultimate plant control.