Top 3 trends affecting IIoT initiatives

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief, Control Design

Jun 29, 2017

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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) runs on data and can substantially improve decision-making by capturing sensor data and turning it into valuable information that becomes business intelligence. However, implementing IIoT creates numerous challenges, such as moving data over great distances, using varied communications protocols and harsh environments.

To meet these challenges, Moxa, which offers products for industrial networking, computing and automation, has designed solutions to help customers to realize the advantages that IIoT promises. At AutomaTech’s ThinkBIG 2017 User Conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Moxa’s Regional Sales Engineer Frank Colonna and Regional Sales Manager Bob Wright shared the top three trends affecting IIoT initiatives.

Trend 1. Increased use of managed switches

“An unmanaged switch connects things,” explained Colonna. “But you need a managed switch for network monitoring, redundancy, which reduces downtime, and cybersecurity. Moxa’s managed switches support Moxa’s proprietary Turbo Ring self-healing redundancy protocol with recovery time of less than 20 milliseconds along with spanning tree protocol (STP), multi spanning tree protocol (MSTP) and rapid spanning tree protocol (RSTP) to help minimize network-failure downtime. The Moxa SDS-3008 Smart switch is an industrial eight-port switch. The compact design fits in small spaces and supports several managed-switch functions and industrial protocols, which make it ideal for easy integration in HMI/SCADA systems,” indicated Colonna.

Trend 2. Increased focus on cybersecurity

“Networks are increasing in size, driving a greater focus on cybersecurity,” explained Wright. “When implementing security, you need to consider lifecycle and how you’ll handle threats,” Wright continued. A defense-in-depth security strategy can be used when you have a site to protect with walls within the firewall—for example, a router or VPN at the site level, followed by a router at the zone and then a VLAN/device.

New cybersecurity standards have been recently introduced, such as NERC CIP V5 from North American Electric Reliability and IEC 62443, formerly ISA 99. Moxa and GE are just a few of the device manufacturers that have adopted these standards, which details the structure of user authentication or passwords and provides audit logging and protection of sensitive data. Moxa’s MXview network management software incorporates security monitoring and meets IEC 62443. “The MXview gives you three security levels of network devices, allowing you to view your network devices and security at a glance,” explained Wright.

Trend 3. Secure remote access & monitoring

“Providing secure remote access for monitoring requires being able to connect to a facility, such as an OEM, and being able to monitor their devices remotely,” explained Wright. “For remote monitoring you have a gateway that connects to the cloud, you have a cloud server via a centralized VPN connection, and you have a client.”

For connecting additional data, you can collect with a data logger and send it up to the cloud, said Wright. “A Modbus-to-MQTT gateway helps our customers get information up to the cloud more quickly,” he explained. “Security comes from connection through a gateway for MQTT. We have customers using a lot of machines and not a lot of manpower to run them.”

More information on products from Moxa, as well as other manufacturers such as AutomaTech, GE Digital, PULS, and WIN-911 can be found at www.industrialautomationnation.com.

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