New hardware and software systems for remote monitoring and predictive maintenance promise to reduce downtime, human error, and cost by improving early detection and automating maintenance procedures. However, for many users, several obstacles remain to achieving this outcome:
- Equipment assets are not sufficiently instrumented
- Field instruments are not connected to automation networks
- Automation networks are divided into data silos
- Automation networks and business networks are not integrated.
The underlying issue behind many of these obstacles is the limited scope of communication of traditional automation devices, like programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and the complexity this creates in data systems. Given the significance of remote monitoring to enable other Industry 4.0 goals, automation vendors are bringing new technologies to bear on the problem. In combination, these technologies can simplify equipment integration and data acquisition, making it possible to send data directly from the plant floor to the cloud.