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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is on the rise. While continuously driven by technologies like the cloud, edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI), global IIoT expansion is gaining further momentum as we are headed towards 5G (the fifth generation of mobile network technology), which promises to bring the fastest wireless connection ever experienced. This ongoing proliferation of IIoT has started to transform a great many aspects of present-day lifestyle: from automated assembly lines where remotely controlled robots are at work, to smart farms utilizing sensors to monitor subtle environmental changes, or smart cities relying on intelligent transportation facilities to regulate public commuting services. IIoT is not just remodeling the way businesses operate – it is essentially going to redefine how people live in a world of ubiquitous connectivity where everything becomes digitally linked.
Making Sense of Data
The IIoT is an immense network with numerous machines and sensors connecting to the Internet and to other devices. It provides a platform where connected devices can share their data and interact with each other using common communication methods. The IIoT platform further aggregates sensor-generated data from various sources and utilizes computing capabilities and analytics to extract valuable information. IIoT creates its core value when it delivers meaningful, data-driven insights, which can be used to help companies identify emerging issues and formulate actionable plans to eliminate problems or improve processes, whether it is optimizing business operations, adding productivity, or reducing risk and costs.
Edge Gateway – the Intermediary of IIoT
The industrial IoT gateway is a key data communication device that makes an IIoT platform work. Situated at the “edge” of an IIoT network near a number of sensors, machines and other data sources, the gateway serves as a medium that bridges connected devices on the local network and the data center on the remote cloud server. All data moving to the cloud or to another network must first go through and communicate with the gateway. IIoT gateways perform the following critical tasks:
Data communication and protocol translation
IIoT networks may use a diverse range of protocols to communicate, such as the serial communications standard Modbus for connecting industrial equipment, or the wireless LoRaWAN protocol for transporting data over long distances. IIoT gateways are able to collect and translate data signals from devices that are running different types of protocols, providing a communication control interface across disparate systems.
The most important role of an IIoT gateway is that it pre-processes and screens out massive chunks of raw data on the edge side, and then forwards filtered information to a remote data center for further analysis. The concept of processing data closer to the source helps minimize the amount of data to be sent to the cloud, thus significantly reducing response time and workload on network resources, in the meantime allowing local devices to quickly respond to urgent situations by triggering real-time actions based on sensor data. With more intelligence being shifted towards the edge, gateways with computing capabilities are even powerful enough to run data analytics like smart IIoT systems.
Agent MaaS Suite (AMS) – Streamlining IIoT Management
Explosive Growth of Connected Devices
Following the fast-paced IIoT evolution has come an explosive growth in the number of networked devices worldwide. The rapid increase of connected devices, coupled with their increasingly diverse networks, makes effective management of these scattered devices a challenge, resulting in a pressing need for enterprises to come up with better strategies and approaches that will allow them to efficiently control and consolidate their fragmented IIoT assets in order to produce optimal synergy.
Software Platform for Managing IIoT Projects and Devices
Enabling smooth IIoT operations requires more than just hardware appliances. To harness a highly dispersed IIoT environment – particularly one with tons of devices scattered over multiple locations using different communication protocols and operating systems – specialized software tools dedicated to accelerating IIoT deployment and simplifying device management are also in increased demand. In response to this trend, Axiomtek has rolled out a new IIoT management platform – Agent MaaS Suite (AMS) – which aims to enable organizations to rapidly develop IIoT solutions and achieve greater control across all environments to make the most of IIoT data.
The Agent MaaS Suite (AMS) is a set of highly integrated intelligent device management software targeting IIoT applications and is supported by most Axiomtek hardware platform models. Designed to reduce development time and effort when deploying and running IIoT projects, AMS offers a management platform featuring data visualization and cloud-connectivity functionalities, allowing users to easily manage and handle tasks from end-point machines all the way up to remote control centers, whether it is protocol communication, data collection and processing, message transmission, or information presentation. The AMS was developed as a web service, meaning users can manage their operating equipment anytime, anywhere by using a networked device with a browser.
How AMS Benefits IIoT Operation
Simplified IIoT Integration and Deployment
A management platform’s ability to ensure a future-proofing IIoT ecosystem is crucial, particularly when the IIoT is evolving at an unprecedented rate with plenty more devices anticipated to join. By supporting widely adopted communication protocols across multiple industries, Axiomtek’s AMS software package enables fast cross-platform integration and seamless interoperability among a huge variety of devices, networks and cloud services, significantly lowering the difficulty of setting up network environments for multi-site device management. On top of that, its standardized, easy-to-use interface helps users manage their hardware equipment effortlessly, while saving the trouble of having to modify project software when switching among different Axiomtek hardware products.
High Degree Flexibility in Personalizing IIoT Applications
AXView 3.0 includes an easy-to-use visual programming tool, Node-RED, for software development. Node-RED gives developers tremendous freedom to design data processing flows using its graphical nodes, allowing them to tailor their IIoT systems to unique scenarios with minimum programming effort. AXView 3.0’s rich dashboard elements and flow templates also make it easier to visualize incoming data, thus speeding up the development of IIoT solutions.
Remote Online Management with Real-Time Data
With AMS’s web-based services providing a real-time management platform that breaks geographical limitations, remote equipment management has never been easier. Through online data sync and streaming, supervisors can get immediate access to real-time data from far away by using their PCs or smartphones, monitor machine health and configure how devices execute their computerized tasks, as well as take instant measures when receiving alerts on abnormal events.