The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has almost become synonymous with smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. IIoT provides the platform for many smart manufacturing applications and the rapid deployment of in-demand smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented and virtual reality (AR / VR), digital twin threads, cloud and edge computing, and much more. Indeed, the IIoT is forming the communicative backbone between sensors, devices, machine controls, databases and information systems, combining existing technologies and extending their capabilities throughout their lifecycle.
The IIoT has become so widespread that many believe it has replaced existing manufacturing applications. One of those long-standing applications is the Manufacturing Execution System (MES). However, despite what people think, MES is still up and running, and working very closely with IIoT to provide analysis and understanding of data that exceed the capabilities of IIoT alone.
Putting Data In Context
When it comes to data and data analysis, context is the root cause of analysis. In most situations, the context is much deeper and more complicated than the data itself. IIoT collects data from sensors, devices, machines, and controllers and provides context to that data. MES takes contextual data and completes the picture. Ultimately, together the IIoT and MES provide a detail of the total context of the data, which is needed for data and root cause analyses. Together, the IIoT and MES make the manufacturing history database work.
Responding To Context And Ensuring Accuracy
While the IIoT and MES both respond to and collect data, only MES can analyse situations and respond. MES works with to determine what is going on and what changes are needed, and then communicates those changes to the systems, machines, and people who need to know about them. The IIoT provides MES with the details of the situations, and then MES, determines the new changes, executes those changes, and sends on those details. Some of the key drivers for MES systems are accuracy, error-proofing, and enforcement. The IIoT collects data on these processes, but MES is key to ensuring that the processes are accurate, error-free, and enforced.
A Symbiotic Relationship
The IIoT collects a lot of data from sensors, devices, machines, and controllers, and MES adds additional context, orders, materials, batches, reasons, codes, and people. MES slices and dices the data, gets it into the format needed for the ERP, and sends it to the ERP package. We do not know what the future holds, however the IIoT, which has become synonymous with, and the foundation of smart manufacturing, will certainly continue to complement MES, and will bring new capabilities and value to manufacturing and enhancing operations like never before.
This information was taken from John Clemons is a Consultant for Rockwell Automation and Maverick Technologies, a leading platform-independent automation solutions provider – written for Forbes Magazine