End-to-end Industry 4.0 applications and IoT solutions need an array of technologies put together by experts in multiple disciplines, which makes offering complete solutions difficult - or at least that used to be the case.
It is now possible for existing suppliers to industrial businesses to offer everything that a business needs to develop custom industrial applications that digitise and add Industry 4.0 capabilities to operations. This is because the platform and software element - the part that many are missing - is now a commoditised SaaS product that can largely be outsourced.
Before we go further, let's look at the technology stack needed in order to offer end-to-end solutions.
Industry 4.0 + IoT application technology stack.
Suppliers typically already fulfil part of the technology stack needed to deliver end-to-end solutions.
Typically the full solution stack consists of the following key components:
- Machinery / Sensors: These collect data from industrial equipment, machines, and the environment, measuring parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, and more. The need for them can be negated if you’re using machinery and instrumentation with pre-existing software that has these capabilities inbuilt, such as you commonly seen with industrial control and automation systems.
- Other Systems / Data: Businesses will have a range of other systems, both Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), in use. To create a complete end-to-end solution, it's critical that these can be integrated and included if it is to affect change and improvement. This means that complete technology stacks and legacy technologies do not need to be replaced, making business cases much simpler.
- Connectivity + Networking: Various wired and wireless technologies facilitate communication and data exchange between devices, systems, and the cloud or on-premise infrastructure.
- Development Tool (backend): Software which is programmed to integrate data sources (sensors and devices, as well as with software and any other technologies that a business uses), analyse them in real-time, apply logic, and supports the creation of applications that end-users will interact with (see application below). Key to them is extreme interoperability so that it can integrate with all relevant data sources from systems, sources, devices and data feeds. Advanced systems will also include automation, machine learning and predictive analytics capabilities to deliver new insights and affect change to operations automatically (AI).
- Application (frontend): Dashboards and other visualization tools provide users with a clear, accessible view of real-time data, enabling them to monitor and control industrial processes. More sophisticated solutions and applications also provide users with tools and functionality that enable them to adjust machinery and tune performance remotely.
The IoT platform you need.
There are now an array of different platforms that you can use to build Industry 4.0 applications and IoT solutions.
These platforms are typically SaaS-based and connect devices and systems, provide security, process data, deliver the IoT platform for application development, add Industry 4.0 capabilities - or at least they can (see the 6 types here).
For basic solutions that are unlikely to scale or need to incorporate functionality beyond real-time monitoring, ‘Data and Analytics Platforms’ could fulfil your needs, but they're likely to require an advanced level of technical IT skills. For solutions that can do that basic element, but which are capable of scaling over time to incorporate automation, predictive analytics, and multi-source real-time data analysis, ‘Integrated data, AI + IoT’ platforms are the answer.
Please note: not all platforms and platform providers enable you to create custom applications that can be resold and white labelled by suppliers. In fact, that list is relatively small (Rayven and our integrated data, AI + IoT platform are one of those).
Working with integrated data, AI + IoT platform providers + syndicated applications.
There are two approaches for industrial suppliers who want to work with platform providers to add the platform and applications needed to deliver the end-to-end vision:
- License an integrated data, AI + IoT platform. You can take the raw platform and build the applications that you want yourself. This gives you complete flexibility and enables you to go your own way with the technology, without ever having to worry about the underlying capabilities of it, ongoing maintenance, and technical support. It will of course, require internal technical expertise with front-end application design, configuration, and deployment.
- Adopt syndicated applications. You can work with the platform provider to create pre-packaged, repeatable deployments of platforms (complete with front-end applications) with prebuilt components that are designed to fulfil common industrial use-cases, which can then be tailored to meet individual business’ needs. In English: a supplier works with another business to create software (on an underlying platform) which they can deploy and customise for multiple customers. This has numerous benefits for industrial suppliers, which are fully explored here, but fundamentally means that you need programming expertise and get ongoing support with all elements of your solution's (or solutions') lifecycle(s).
Existing industrial suppliers are they often best placed to become solution providers due to their existing relationships and broader understanding of customer and sector practices, however have been unable to due to the time and investment that would be required to deliver complete, competent software.
Speak to us today to have a no obligation discussion about your needs, what you can achieve with syndicated applications, and to discover more about Rayven and the capabilities of the underlying technology that powers our our IoT solutions (our integrated Data, AI + IoT platform).