If you are a business owner, It’s clear that IOT is in your future somewhere whether you like it or not. However, we understand that for most companies deciding what to do is difficult. Hundreds of providers claim unlimited possibilities and benefits from IOT, on the premise that if you “get them the data” they can provide a host of visualization tools, alarms and analytics benefits. However, getting the data is the critical part where nearly all IOT systems fall short. The reason is that there are so many variants of PLC’s, controllers and software products, and very few of them are designed to seamlessly communicate with one another. Call this a failure of standardization to overcome the profit based proprietary software business model. The reality is that integrators are needed to first determine what a particular PLC, controller and software system can provide and translate its interface via a common format to enable analyses such that useful information is created and then communicated. That format is usually some higher-level proprietary software system chosen by the integrator to best fit the application or just happens to be their preference. As a result, the small and medium enterprise backbone of the world’s industry is trapped into picking a vendor and pushing forward bound by their licensing and software capabilities. If you want to interface with something new, you’ll be paying for them to integrate it. I addition many commercial licenses prevent your from running third software on systems you own.
We at Solution Family believe that the only way to significantly impact the industry is to make the IOT system itself either free or negligible in terms of cost in order to overcome the risk of being handcuffed to a particular product. Imagine if the integrators of the world no longer had to pick from a range of IOT systems where the business model is based on software sales and mandatory maintenance service agreement revenues. What if they had the option to choose a product that was based on open standards where the business model relied on providing services for installation, integration and customization only if the manufacturer wanted to contract those services. What if your company had the resources capable of configuring, maintain and customizing the system but just needed a head start to get the process going? Well that system is here, and it’s called Solution Family. Solution Family is designed to be maintained and expanded by the customer and if or when the customer decides they need some help along the way, that’s where Solution Family can provide services. That model works and is becoming more and more popular. Most companies either ramp up with some initial service and training support and then take over control, or they don’t want to carry the manpower and overhead, and, have no problem soliciting third party support as they need it. Either way works. The developers of Solution Family believe this new business model which practically eliminates the dependency of a costly proprietary system and compulsory maintenance agreements which turns the IOT business on its head. Solution Family empowers you with the choice of which parts of the problem you and your staff choose to solve and which parts you would want assistance with.
But what about that initial problem of “getting the data” which is where nearly all IOT systems fall short. The developers of Solution Family knew this was the crux of the integration problem. What they did was design the translation solution right at the beginning of the process in the form of “adapters”. Adapters are like language translators standing right next to the source, so that everything else downstream can understand and use what the Adapter is providing. Why adapters? Because of the never-ending variety of input sources and their formats and the need to allow customers to write their own interfaces to expand their IIoT solution With over 50 protocols available, Solution Engine provides a great start to integrating your equipment. If you need an additional protocol, as long as you write your adapters using the open MTConnect protocol or the Solution Family SDK, the Solution Engine will automatically integrate its information into your solution. Incidentally, moving data outside Solution Engine is easy because Solution Family uses open databases and standard protocols to get your information to any place you want to store and use it. Once in the database, the entire world of database tools and support can go to work, your data is now free from the proprietary world of industrial protocols.
To make sure new and old equipment are easily integrated, Solution Family offers a Learning Integrated Manufacturing Systems (LIMS) appliance for industrial applications and Learning Energy Control Systems (LECS) appliance for building and batch processing control systems. These are essentially appliances that contain a fan-less PC, with a programmable IO module and a configurable DIN rail power supply. You can physically connect ethernet, analog and digital discrete I/O as required for the application. A host of standard protocols are already included in the system software.
What’s the bottom line? Businesses that will benefit the most from connected devices (a.k.a. IOT) will be those that that are able to define which data should be monitored, efficiently collect and analyze that data and effectively use the insights to improve business function. This is what Solution Family enables from cradle to grave. Infinitely scalable and configurable with an intuitive easy to use graphical user interface. The Solution Family business model empowers you with choices throughout your IIoT life cycle and attracts even the most frugal of business managers while eliminating the barriers to flexibility and value.