Mark Lewis, VP Â Marketing & Sales
Dart Controls, Inc.
I have had the privilege to work for a drive manufacturer, an IT system integrator and process control suppliers and integrators in my career.Â IÂve seen a lot over the years – my goal for the presentation is to share how I see the application of Internet of Things / Industry 4.0 principles as they apply to motor speed controls (drives).Â The presentation takes a practical view of what makes sense for a manufacturer and user of drives for the next three to five years.
IoT certainly is a hot topic in trade publications.Â I remember the Fieldbus initiative from the Â80s; the buzz created by Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) in the Â90s; the advent of client-server computing early this century; and most recently, cloud based computing.Â All of these plant and enterprise automation concepts rely heavily on reliable and accurate data acquisition from Âfinal control elementsÂ, from the bar code reader in a Shipping Department to the control valve in a refinery.
For our discussion, drives are Âfinal control elementsÂ.Â They are the intelligent device nearest to the process being controlled, where ÂintelligentÂ is defined as having the ability to support communication over some form of network.
IoT is real and is being implemented, and will continue to grow from a concept to true and beneficial application.Â I am already involved with plant level applications and even (OEM) intra-machine applications where (process) validation / data acquisition / installation cost savings are all important and addressed by the use of intelligent drives.
However, some BIG questions remain for the user and supplier of intelligent drives:
- Some form of Ethernet appears to be the likely network of choice in the not so distant future.Â If I need Ethernet connectivity in a drive, what will it cost me to source?
- Does my organization have the people skills to support a plant-wide Ethernet architecture?
- How well will Ethernet stand up to the environmental rigors of my plant?
- Since each Ethernet device requires a unique IP address, whatÂs to stop a hacker from taking control of my plant?
- I have to reboot my Ethernet router at home, usually after a storm.Â Will I have to do the same in my plant?
- What will it cost to implement true Ethernet network redundancy in my plant?Â We cannot afford any downtime.
- Some form of Ethernet appears to be the likely network of choice in the not so distant future.Â If I need to provide Ethernet connectivity in a drive, what will it cost me to offer it?Â Does it make sense for me to offer it in the drive, or take advantage of a commercially available interface?
- Does my organization have the people skills to support an Ethernet capable drive product?
- How well will Ethernet stand up to the environmental rigors our drive products are subjected to?
- Since each Ethernet device requires a unique IP address, to what extent do we need to add network security to our Ethernet drive products?
- If we jump to Ethernet capability in our drives, what do we offer those thousands of customers who are using (ProfiNet, ModBus, EtherCAT, etc.)?
- Will Ethernet ever be truly industrialized sufficiently to be deterministic, redundant, and (associated hardware) NEMA/IP rated?
This is just one of many possible discussions possible on the topic.
I do not claim to be a subject matter expert on the topic.Â What I believe can be accomplished in our limited time together is to look at this issue, as it relates to motor drives, from many different angles and thus expand the attendeesÂ awareness of the many issues involved with IoT implementation.