Industrial connectivity in the age of industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, Iot, IT, OT. These are the most used terms that today represent the future (but increasingly also the present) of connectivity and communication between the hardware and software systems of an industrial production plant. IoT (Internet of Things) technology is transforming the concept of connection for all devices, which can communicate autonomously through a network, sending and receiving information. This represents a leap forward in terms of the modernisation and optimisation of an industrial automation system, which can thus produce more and more efficiently.

Industry 4.0 and IIot

Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution that has involved modern society: after the introduction of steam engines, electric machines and automation, cybernetics has effectively become part of the industrial scene. Using M2M (Machine to Machine) connections, it is possible to connect several independent devices, which are able to communicate among each other on the network, reaching levels of connectivity that were previously unthinkable. The development of the IoT has made these transformations possible. So, we talk about IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) referring to the application of the Internet of Things to the industrial field. In this case stricter security parameters are required, both related to the operation of the system and about the protection from any external threats.

IT vs. OT

If the IT (Information Technology) sector manages all the data processing systems, the OT (Operational Technology) supervises the real automation process. Although both act within the same field, they do it from different perspectives and this can create difficulties in term of communication. The use of the IIot allows to overcome the problems between IT and OT, through the intelligent management of large amounts of data and the connection between all the devices present which are able to dialogue independently.

Data management

In a IIot context, IT needs to rethink management of data, which do not have much value if stored as they are, it is very important that machines can understand data, so they can predict and avoid critical situations thanks to several input points (machines in the production department, sensors). Archiving in general must step forward, innovating the way data are managed and shared among devices in order to become a suitable process for new ways of connecting and communicating information.    

The great challenge of the IIoT is to ensure, in addition to increasing efficiency, the protection of the entire system from possible external attacks. For this reason, we need to make reasoned choices in order to have a state-of-the-art system, but also the right level of security that allows us to preserve the safety of all data that are exchanged every day.

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