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Marco Ghisellini

The industrial Internet describes a progression and unification of technology that offers business-to-business, device-to-device and people-to-device connectivity through the Internet.

Today, automation and IT are combining the advances of the past two decades to address some of the world's biggest problems in the fields of energy, mass transportation, urban infrastructure and manufacturing. In fact, the factory is generally recognized as one of the first places for industrial exploration of the Internet and the creation of solutions.

Bringing the concepts of edge connectivity, protocol conversion, and edge computing to a position where they can be mass-adopted at the factory is certainly easier said than done. Currently, there are three phases of IoT design that are helping plant operations managers address the challenges of connecting devices and making factories smarter.

1) Connectivity: Industrial IoT depends on pervasive and fluid connectivity between devices, sensors and software for controlling operations. In the case of factory automation, the software is known as Manufacturing Execution Software or MES.

In the past, the division between fieldbuses, plant-level networks, control networks and application layers of global industrial operations was clearly defined and separated. This was beneficial for clearly defined job descriptions between plant managers and IT architects, but was not ideal for optimization and operational scalability.

Splitting the protocol resulted in difficulties if a line of CNC machines had to be connected to the companies' global control network as it would be complex, expensive and with limited functionality. While this is gradually changing, it is still very important to understand the end devices, protocols and physical interfaces to achieve seamless control from the plant to all virtual workstations. In short, connectivity is the first and most critical principle of industrial IoT.

2) Conversion from data to information: today's industrial production plants produce a lot of data. For example, in automobile manufacturing plants, up to 8,000 devices can be connected to a single network. In consumer product manufacturing, this number can exceed 12,000.

In both circumstances, the motion and position sensors connect more and more with each other, crossing the PLC barrier. After these knots s have been linked, the challenge is to make all that data work. For many years, enterprise data companies using data clusters have tried to bring the power of big data from the digital B2C space to industrial automation, but so far with little success. This was largely due to the lack of connectivity, the complexity of production facilities and the huge amount of data produced in a typical manufacturing enterprise. That said, recent improvements in increasing industrial network bandwidth and the use of modulated peripheral computers have allowed factories to scale easily to meet the influx of data.

This is why due diligence is required to estimate bandwidth demand and select a network provider that can meet this demand. In addition, the data requirements of manufacturing operations must also be met as they continue to grow in the years to come. Existing operators can quickly deploy intelligent solutions that enable real-time, localized analytics that bridge the communication gap between the factory LAN, the control LAN, and corporate networks. Factory operators are beginning to realize that ensuring greater connectivity between the field / plant level and the enterprise can have significant benefits.

For example, according to a recent study on Industry 4.0 by McKinsey & Company, a global mining operator was able to translate the collection of localized data into optimization measures for its chemical processes that increased the yield by 3, 7%, equal to approximately $ 20 million per year.

Due to the enormous amount of data that a network of meters can produce in a day, the transfer and storage of such data is often considered too difficult to facilitate in an industrial network. However, with the advancement and greater accessibility of embedded computers and industrial wireless networks, the processing and storage of "flow data" allows small and large-scale manufacturing operations to easily record years of production data. quickly alerting the central control room in real time if any anomalies occur. The benefits of this data-to-information capability at the edge of industrial networks have enabled companies to extend product life for years by shedding light on potential system failures before they occur. Small investments in industrial connectivity infrastructure have forced the fixed depreciation model of the accounting teams of many process automation companies to rethink their practice, allowing them to lower profits each year and consequently increase shareholder value. / p>

3) Cybersecurity threat: the IT level of the industrial IoT movement is what fundamentally differentiates the industrial IoT from the IoT. In the industrial Internet, the cyber layer acts as a central information hub where data from all resources and sensors in the field is stored.

It is at the cyber level that custom analyzes are performed and largely reside for the purpose of allowing machines to engage in self-learning processes over time. In simple terms, network data is distributed among various devices within a local area network (LAN), placing much of the bandwidth and compute load and security of file transfer evenly across all devices. internal LAN. Bandwidth bottlenecks are reduced, as are potential areas of network vulnerability.

This is because the cyber layer of the industrial IoT architecture, by its very nature, overturns the traditional models of cybersecurity and management by moving traffic from large corporate networks to a network of perimeter devices and subnets of work groups.
In this model, each device has a role to play in the security of the wider network and the plant manager has the obligation to build the network taking into account redundancy, strategic placement of firewalls and the implementation of emergency plans in in the event of network failures or network intrusions.

The following IoT enablement steps will provide each plant or operations manager with the proper due diligence and consideration process when designing a smart factory solution, resulting in a connected and secure network.

Products and services

Melchioni provides complete solutions and specialized technical support for industrial connectivity:

The growing demand for connectivity, together with our being distributors of Industrial PCs, has given us the natural push to oversee the networking and connection market as well. To do this we have relied on leading suppliers, such as Moxa, iBase, Realwear, Vuzix, Teamviewer, SimCom, 2J, ...

Thanks to the training and constant updating of our specialized staff, we provide hardware, assembly to customer specifications, tests, integration of on-board operating systems and the know-how necessary to meet the demands of the wireless communication market - GSM, BLE, Wi Fi, Zigbee modules - in addition to the most advanced solutions to meet every need in terms of Cyber Security, reliability and longevity of the products. In support of the Augmented Reality proposal, we provide "wearable" solutions for industrial environments.

Our networking offering covers:

  • Antennas
  • RFID and Smart
  • Card GNSS Modules
  • RF short range modules
  • Wi-Fi modules
  • Bluetooth modules
  • Cellular and Smart Modules
  • Networking accessories
  • Wearable devices
  • Remote access and network security